- Nutrition, Diet, and Wellness
- Amino Acids
- Natural Food Supplements
Nutrition, Diet, and Wellness
- Understanding the basics of nutrition
- The Four Basic Nutrients
- The Micronutrients: Vitamins and Minerals
- fda’s new good manufacturing practices
- nutrients and dosages for maintaining good health
- avoid overcooking your foods
- use the proper cooking utensils
- limit your use of salt
- Drug Interactions
- Blood Purification
- Supplementation For Serious Athletes
Understanding the basics of nutrition
Good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Everyone needs the four basic nutrients
Water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – as well as vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
To be able to choose the proper foods, and to better understand why those foods should be supported with supplements, you need to have a clear idea of the components of a healthy diet.
It is now a requirement in the United States that all packaged foods have a nutrition label that tells the consumer what is actually inside the package. This system may not be perfect, but it is a big improvement over no labeling at all, the situation that existed only a generation ago. Keep in mind that all fresh, minimally processed foods, such as grains purchased in bulk, meats, fruits, and vegetables, do not carry labels. However, they are inherently healthier than packaged goods because the have more beneficial nutrients and fewer harmful ones. For example, unlike processed items, these foods are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium.
Let’s look at the one of these labels and see what it tells us. Look at Figure below, which happens to bea label for a package of macaroni and cheese: The serving size is listed at the top of the label. All of the daily value percentagesare based on this amount. It’s good to keep in mind that the serving size listed on the label may notcorrespond with what many people consider a serving or portion of the product.
There are 250 calories in this product, and 110 calories (almost half the calories in the product) come from the fat(panel 2). This is not good sign. A rule of thumb is that fat should contribute no more than 30 percent of the total calories per serving.
Note the total fat, cholesterol and sodium information (panel 3). The amount of total fat (bad) is shown, as are the amounts of saturated fat (bad). It’s also important to pay attention to how much sodium the product contains and to maintain total in take below the suggested daily value.
Panel 3 also gives the amount of dietary fiber (good), sugars(bad), and protein(you need some at each meal), and panel 4, selected vitamins and minerals (good).
The footnote panel (5) gives target information for various nutrients based on a diet containing a total of 2,000 or 2,500 calories per day. This may or may not be useful to you, depending on your particular situation and calories goal. It is important to be aware also that the percentages given in the preceding are percentage of a 2,000-calorie diet and are not a percentage of the amount we actually recommend for a good health or to maintain a healthy weight
There is still some question as to the benefits of the current food labeling system. Some are calling for thorough assessment of whether the new labeling has actually enabled consumers to make healthier food choices. Some of the major food companies such as Kraft Foods and major grocery store chains such as Stop & Shop are already creating new labeling systems to help consumers make better choices.
The Four Basic Nutrients
Water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the basic building blocks of a good diet. By choosing the healthiest forms of each of these nutrients and eating them in the proper balance, you enable your body to function at its optimal level.
The human body is two-thirds water. Water is an essential nutrient that is involved in every function of the body. It helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. It is necessary for all digestive, absorptive, circulatory, and excretory functions, as well as for the utilization of the water-soluble vitamins. It is also needed for the maintenance of proper body temperature. Each day the body loses up to 1 quart of water each from the kidneys and skin, about 1 cup from the lungs, and ½ cup from feces – a total of about 6 to 10 cups. To replace the water lost, males need to consume about 15 cups of fluid and females about 11 cups.
Ingesting an adequate amount of water each day – whether by food or water – is essential to maintain good health. Usually urine will be pale yellow in color in the body is sufficiently hydrated. It is possible to get a good portion of your daily intake of water – at least ten 8-ounce glasses – not from the tap, but from fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with water, some up to 90 percent water. Although recent studies have shown that beverages such as juices and sodas can be counted toward the daily fluid requirement, obtaining proper levels of fluids from fruits and vegetables and noncaloric beverages such as water and herbal tea is preferable, especially for weight control.
Carbohydrates supply the body with the energy it needs to function. They are found almost exclusively in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, peas, grains, and beans. Milk and milk products are the only foods derived from animals that contain carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are divided into two groups – simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, sometimes called simple sugars, include fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and lactose (milk sugar), as well as several other sugars. Fruits are one of the richest natural sources of simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Complex carbohydrates include fiber and starches. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vegetables, whole grains, peas, and beans.
Newer classifications for carbohydrates are based on their glycemic indexes (GI). The index is a scoring system to show how much glucose appears in the blood after eating a carbohydrate-containing food -the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low. Most simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels more than complex ones, but not always. For example, white bread raises blood sugar more than table sugar because sugar has a lower GI. Eating food with high glycemic indexes can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Simply put, adopting a low – glycemic index diet is healthier. Low – glycemic index foods include fruits, vegetables, meat, oils, and dairy products. Most grain-based foods, especially those that are highly processed, have high glycemic indexes.
Carbohydrates are the main source of blood glucose, which is major fuel for all of the body’s cell and the only source of energy for the brain and red blood cells. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are converted into glucose. The glucose is then either used directly to provide energy for the body or stored in the liver for future use. If a person consumes more calories than his or her body is using, a portion of the carbohydrates consumed may be stored in the body as fat.
Due to complex chemical reactions in the brain, eating carbohydrates has mild tranquilizing effect, and can be beneficial for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder and/or depression.
When choosing carbohydrate-rich foods for your diet, chose unrefined foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, and whole-grain products, instead of refined, processed foods such as soft drinks, desserts, candy, and sugar. Refined foods offer few, if any, of the vitamins and minerals that are important to your health, Foods that are rich in nutrients are called nutrients are called nutrient-dense foods. A healthy diet should consist mainly of these foods and avoid those that are nutrient-poor. In addition, eating large amounts of simple carbohydrates found in refined foods, especially over a period of many years, can lead to a number of disorders, including diabetes and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Yet another problem is that foods high in refined simple sugars are often also high in fats, which should be limited in a healthy diet. This is why such foods- which include most cookies and cakes, as well as many snack foods – are usually loaded with calories.
A word is in order here regarding fiber, a very important form of carbohydrate. Referred to in the past as “roughage”, dietary fiber is the part of a plant that is resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes. As a result, only a relatively small amount of fiber is digested or metabolized in the intestines. Instead, most of it moves through the gastrointestinal tract and ends up in the stool.
Although most fiber is not digested, it delivers several important health benefits. First, fiber retains water, resulting in softer and bulkier stools that prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. A high-fiber diet also reduces the risk of colon cancer, perhaps by speeding the rate at which stool passes through the intestine and by keeping the digestive tract clean. In addition, fiber binds with certain substance that would normally result in production of cholesterol, and eliminates these substances from the body. In this way, high fiber diet helps lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
It is recommended that about 50 to 60 percent of your total daily calories come from carbohydrates. If much of your diet consists of healthy complex carbohydrates. If much of your diet consists of healthy complex carbohydrates, you should easily fulfill the recommended daily minimum of 25 grams of fiber. Fiber should come primarily from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are better than highly processed once because they contain more fiber. Fiber is either soluble or insoluble. The soluble type is broken down in the large intestine (colon). Insoluble fiber is not digested and is simply excreted in the stool.
Protein is essential for growth and development. It provides the body with energy, and is needed for the manufacture of hormones, antibodies, enzymes, and tissues. It also helps maintain the proper acid-alkali balance in the body.
When protein is consumed, the body breaks it down into amino acids, the building blocks of all protein. Since protein is essential for life, other foods such as fruits and vegetables, which are alkaline-producing need to be consumed to balance the body. Some of the amino acids from proteins are designated nonessential. This does not mean that they are unnecessary, but rather that they do not have to come from the diet because they are synthesized by the body from other amino acids. Other amino acids are considered essential, meaning that the body cannot synthesize them, and therefore must obtain them from the diet.
When the makes the protein – when it builds muscle, for instance – it needs a variety of amino acids for the protein-making process. These amino acids may come from dietary protein or from the body’s own pool of amino acids. If a shortage of amino acids becomes chronic, which can occur if the diet id deficient in essential amino acids, the building of protein in the body stops, and the body suffers. The brain will trigger the muscle cells to release vital proteins to support the body. However, in extreme cases, some patients develop cachexia, which presents as weight loss, muscle atrophy, and severe fatigue and can result from a poor dietary protein intake.
Because of the importance of consuming proteins that provide all of the necessary amino acids, dietary proteins are considered to belong two different groups, depending on the amino acids they provide. Complete proteins, which constitute the first group, contain ample amounts of all the essentials amino acids. These proteins are found in meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, and milk. Incomplete proteins, which constitute the second group, contain only some of the essential amino acids. These proteins are found in a variety of food, including grains, legumes, and leafy green vegetables.
Although it is important to consume the full range of amino acids, both essential and non essential, it is not necessary to get them from meat, fish, poultry, and other complete-protein foods. In fact, because of their high fact content as well as the use of antibiotics and other chemicals in the raising of poultry and cattle-most the those foods should be eaten only in moderation. Many animal proteins are now available without hormones, or the animals are organically fed and hormone-free, so this risk can be mitigated by choosing these meats. It is best to trim all visible fats-including skin-from animal proteins and use low-fat or non fat dairy products. Doing this will help reduce the risk of heart disease while still allowing for adequate intake of proteins.
Fortunately, the dietary strategy called mutual supplementation enables you to combine-protein foods to make complimentary protein- proteins that supply adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. For instance, although beans and brown rice are both quite rich in proteins, each lacks one or more amino acids. However, when you combine beans and brown rice with each other, or when you combine either one with any of a number of proteins-rich foods, you form a complete protein that is high-quality substitute for meat. To make a complete protein, combine beans with any of following :
Or combine Brown rice with any one of the following :
Recent research indicate that it is possible to adequately meet your essential amino acid needs by eating an assortment of protein-containing foods over the course of the day and that there may be no need to combine proteins in one meal.
The problem is that many Americans eat too much proteins, especially at one sitting, largely as a result of a diet high in meat and dairy products. Protein synthesis (manufacturing of new proteins for the body) works best when the protein is consumed on a regular basis throughout the day. However, if you have reduced the amount of meat and dairy foods in your diet, you should make sure to get 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. To make sure that you are getting enough variety of amino acids in your diet, add protein-rich foods to meals and snacks as often as possible. Eat bread with nut butters, for instance, or add nuts and seeds to salads and vegetable casseroles. Be aware that a combination of any grains, any nuts and seeds, any legumes (such as beans, peanuts, and peas), and a variety of mixed vegetables will make a complete protein. In addition, corn meal fortified with amino acid L-lysine makes a complete protein.
All soybean products, such as tofu and soymilk, are complete proteins. These foods have high levels of fiber, and soy has been found to be the healthiest source of protein, more so than any other food. Soybean protein makes up 35 to 38 percent of its total calories, offers all eight essential amino acids, and is high in vitamin B₆. The average American consumes only about 10 milligrams of soy protein per day, although the American Heart Association suggests that consuming at least 25 grams per day may reduce the risk of heart disease. Available in health food stores, tofu, soy oil, soy flour, soy-based meat substitutes, soy cheese, and many other soy products are healthful ways to compliment the meatless diet. Fermented soy products, such as miso, tempeh, fermented tofu, and soymilk are now widely available and are loaded with isoflavones, which are immediately bioavailable, and they have more genistein (soy isoflavones) and nutrients than regular soy. They also fit in with Asian dietary practices. Fermentation yields more nutrients such as beta-glucan, glutathione, and the B-vitamins than standard products.
Low-fat yogurt is the only animal-derived complete-protein source recommended for frequent use in the diet. Full-fat yogurt is loaded with saturated fat and should be avoided or used as a treat. Yogurt is made from milk that is curdled by bacteria; it contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and other “friendly” bacteria needed for the digestion of foods and the prevention of many disorders, including candidiasis. Yogurt is also a good source of calcium and other essential nutrients. Some yogurts have other healthy bacterial strains added to them.
Do not buy the sweetened, flavored yogurts that are sold in supermarkets. These products contain added sugar and, often, preservatives. Instead, either purchase fresh unsweetened yogurt from a health food store or make yogurt yourself and sweeten it with fruit juices and other wholesome ingredients. Yogurt makers are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, and are available at most health food stores.
Although much attention has been focused on the need to reduce dietary fat, the body does need fat. During infancy and childhood, fat is necessary for normal brain development. Throughout life, it is essential to provide energy and support growth. Fat is, in fact, the most concentrated source of energy available to the body. However, after about two years of age, the body requires only small amounts of fat-much less than is provided by the average American diet. If you an adult, about one-third of your calories should come from fat. Of that total, one-third should be saturated, one-third polyunsaturated (corn oil and fish oil), and one-third monounsaturated (olive oil).
Excessive fat intake is a major causative factor in obesity, high blood pressure, coronary heart diseases, and colon cancer, and has been linked to a number of other disorders as well. To understand how fat intake is related to these health problems, it is necessary to understand the different types of fats available and the waste in which these fats act within the body.
Fats are composed of building blocks called fatty acids. There are three major categories of fatty acids-saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. These classifications are based on the number of hydrogen atoms in the chemical structure of a given molecule of a fatty acid.
Saturated fatty acids are found primarily in animal products, including dairy items such as whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, and fatty meats like beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ham. The fat marbling you can see in beef and pork is composed of saturated fats. Some vegetables products-including coconut oil and palm kennel oil-are also high in saturates. The liver uses saturated fats to manufacture cholesterol. The excessive dietary intake of saturated fats can significantly raise the blood cholesterol level, especially the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDLs), or “bad cholesterol.” Guidelines issued by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), and widely supported by most experts, recommend that the daily intake of saturated fats be kept below 10 percent of total caloric intake. However, for people who have severe problems with high blood cholesterol, even that level may be too high.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in greatest abundance in corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils. Certain fish oils are also high in polyunsaturates. Unlike the saturated fats, polyunsaturates also have a tendency to reduce levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). Or “good cholesterol.” For this reason-and because polyunsaturates, like all fats, are high in calories for their weight and volume-the NCEP guidelines state that and individual’s intake of polyunsaturated fats should not exceed 10 percent of total caloric intake.
Recently the concept of “good” and “bad” fats has surfaced. Good fats are polyunsaturated and include those listed above. Newly added to this list are omega-3 fats, which don’t affect cholesterol levels, but may reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood flowing freely. Omega-3 fats are essential for life, but since the 1900s people have been eating fewer of the foods that contain them. The polyunstaturated facts commonly consumed in the United States come from vegetable-based oils like corn, sunflower, and cotton seed oil and contain omega-6s. Although they are also essential, you only need to consume a teaspoon a day of these oils to meet your total omega-6 needs.
Another caveat concerning polyunsaturated fats: vegetable shortening and stick margarine are made of liquid polyunsaturated fats, which means they should be healthful, but they are so highly processed that they are not. It is preferable to substitute soft-tub margarine, on your toast. It does not perform well when heated, however, so you stick margarine and vegetable shortening when cooking-they are still preferable to butter.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in vegetable and nut oils such as olive, peanut, and canola. These fats appear to reduce blood levels of LDLs without affecting HDLs in any way. However, this positive impact upon LDL cholesterol is relatively modest. The NCEP guidelines recommend that intake of monounsaturated fats be kept between 10 & 15 percent of total caloric intake.
Although, most foods-including some plants-derived foods-contain a combination of all three types of fatty acids, one of the type usually predominates. Thus, a fat or oil is considered “saturated” or “ high in saturates” when it is composed primarily of saturated fatty acids. Such saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Similarly, a fat or oil composed mostly of polyunsaturated fatty acids is called “polyunsaturated,” while a fat or oil composed mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids is called “monounsaturated.”
One other element, trans-fatty acids, which used to be in many products is thought to play a role in blood cholesterol levels and factors that increase the risk of heart disease. Also called trans fats, these substances occur when polyunsaturated oils are altered through hydrogenation, a process used to harden liquid vegetable oil into solid foods like margarine and shortening. As of January 2006, the FDA has required all manufacturers to list the trans-fat content on the nutrition label. Almost immediately products free of trans fats emerged on the market. Today you wont find many products that contains trans fats. If you do see trans fats on the label, you should avoid products where there is more than 0.5 gram per serving. Your total intake should less than 1 percent of total caloric intake or about 2 grams per 1800- calorie diet.
It is clear that if you are goal is to lower blood cholesterol, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are more desirable than saturated fats or products with trans-fatty acids. Just as important, your total calories from fats should range between 20 to 35 percent of daily calories.
The Micronutrients: Vitamins and Minerals
Like water, carbohydrates. Protein, and fats, and the enzymes required to digest them, vitamins and minerals are essential to life. They are therefore considered nutrients, and are often referred to as micronutrients simply because they are needed in relatively small amounts compared with the four basic nutrients.
Recommended Dietary allowances (RDAs) were instituted in 1941 by National Academy Sciences U.S. Food and Nutrition Board as a standard for the daily amount of vitamins and minerals needed by a healthy person. These RDAs were the basis for the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.S. RDAs) adopted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The U.S. RDA used to be the term that was used on food labels. However, the provisions of the Supplement Act of 1992 required a change in food product labeling to use a new reference term, Daily Value (DV), which began to appear on FDA-regulated product labels in 1994. Today you can look at any food or dietary supplement label and see the percent DV of all essential nutrients contained in the product. DVs are made up of two sets of reference: Daily Reference Values (DRVs) and Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs).
DRVs are a set of dietary references that apply to fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, protein, fiber, sodium, and potassium. RDIs are a set of dietary references based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances for essential vitamins and minerals and, in selected groups, protein. The term RDI replaces U.S. RDA.
In 1998 the Food and Nutrition Board published new guidelines for healthy eating and called them Dietary References Intakes (DRIs). These can be used for planning and assessing diets for healthy people.
The goal is to have these guidelines, which make up the DRI, replace the previous RDA standard.
The amounts of these nutrients defined by the DRI give us about twice the amount needed to ward off vitamin deficiency diseases such as beriberi, rickets, scurvy, and night blindness. What they do not account for are the amounts needed to maintain maximum health, rather than borderline health. Moreover, they are not good at providing an individual’s need but rather population norms.
Scientific studies have shown that taking dosages of vitamins above the DRIs helps our body work better. The DRIs therefore are not very useful for determining what out intake of different vitamins should be. We prefer to speak in terms of optimum daily intake (ODIs) – the amounts of nutrients needed for vibrant good health. This entails consuming larger amounts of vitamins than the DRIs.
By providing our bodies with an optimum daily amount of necessary vitamins, we can enhance our health. Many nutrients with DRI also have a corresponding Tolerable Upper Level of Intake (UL), which is higher than the DRI but that has been found to be safe. Do not take more than the UL for any nutrient (unless your health care providers recommend that you do) because it is not safe to do so based on what we know today. The ULs are constantly under scrutiny. For eg., scientists have called for FDA to increase the UL for vitamin D.
fda’s new good manufacturing practices
Ideally, all of us would get all the nutrients we need for optimal health from fresh, healthful foods. In reality, however, this is often difficult, if not impossible. In our chemically polluted and stress-filled world, our nutritional requirement have been increasing, but the number of calories we require has been decreasing, as our general level of physical activity has declined. This means we are faced with needing somehow to get more nutrients from less food. At the same time, many of our foods are depleted of certain nutrients. Modern farming practices have resulted in soils that are lacking in selenium and other nutrients.
Harvesting and shipping practices are dictated not by nutritional considerations but by marketing demands. Add to this extensive processing, improper storage, and other factor, and it is little wonder that many of the foods that reach our tables cannot meet out nutritional needs. Getting even the DRI vitamins from today’s diet has become quite hard to do. This means that for optimum health, it is necessary to take nutrients in supplement form Dr. Bruce Ames, a well-known nutritional scientist, argues that low dietary intakes of vitamins and minerals is white spread in the United States and that this may accelerate chronic diseases of aging like cancer.
Everyone would benefit from taking dietary supplements given the nature of the food supply. And supplements have become much safer. As of July 2008, all companies that manufacture dietary supplements must follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). The FDA has established guidelines for manufacturing procedures so that you actually get the nutrients that are advertised on the label. Also the new requirements dictate that the products are clean and free of harmful bacteria and other toxins. The FDA now requires manufacturers to store all the ingredients used in a product after the product has been sold. Each product must have a name and phone number to call if a user becomes ill. The batch number of the product then can be matched to the stored product to help figure out why someone has had an adverse reaction.
Nutrients and Dosages for Maintaining Good Health
ODI’s are safe (and does not cause toxicity) they should be varied according to person’s size and body weight. People who are active and exercise; those who are under great stress, on restricted diet, or mentally or physically ill; women who take oral contraceptive; those on medication, those who are recovering from the surgery; and smokers and those who consume alcoholic beverages-all we need larger-than-normal amounts of certain nutrients.
In addition to a proper diet, exercise and a positive attitude are two important elements that are needed to prevent sickness and disease. If your lifestyle includes each of these, you will feel good and have more energy-something we all deserve. Nature has the answers we need to maintain our health, but you need to know what nutrients you are taking to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
If you are not use to take supplements, especially in larger-than-normal dozes, your body may need time to adjust. Always take multivitamin/multimineral supplement with food–if possible, with the biggest meal of the day–to avoid stomach upset and foster better absorption of the nutrients. Otherwise, if the tablet can be split into, take half in the morning and half at the evening meal.
Daily dosages are suggested; however, before using any supplements you should consult with your health care provider. The dosages given here are for adults and children weighing 100 pounds and over. Appropriate dosages for children vary according to age and weight a child weighing between 70 and 100 pounds should be given three-quarters the adult dose; a child weighing less than 70 pounds (and over the age of six years) should be given one-half the adult dose. A child under the age of six years should be given nutritional formulas designed specifically for young children. Follow the dosage directions on the product label. Many products have not been directly tested for use by children, so be sure to check with the child’s health care provider before giving any supplement to a child. Besides vitamins and minerals, other nutrients that have been tested in children include Andrographis Paniculata, Cranberry, Echinacea, evening primrose oil, garlic, Ivy leaf, and valerian.
It is recommended to use only quality supplements from a reputable source. Lower-priced supplements can mean lower quality, with higher level of fillers and other undesirable ingredients. Give you’re the best—it deserves it. Of course it is better to take supplement than not, so if you can’t afford the higher –quality vitamins, then use the lower-cost ones.
For your reference , both milligrams (mg) and micrograms (mcg) referred to specific weights as International Unit (IU), by contrast, is the amount of the vitamin, mineral, or other substance agreed upon by the International Conference for Unification of Formulae to elicit certain biological activity. Thus, an international unit of one vitamin will be of a different weight than an international unit of a different vitamin. It is a useful gauge for how much of a particular vitamin or mineral you are taking, but in terms of weight it is meaningful only for that particular substance and no other. Studies have found that people regularly takes supplements typically have a great quality of life, a lower risk of heart attack and diabetes, and lower blood pressure compared to those who do not take supplements.
Avoid Overcooking Your Foods
As just discussed, cooking foods for all but brief periods of time can destroy many valuable nutrients. More alarming is that when foods are cooked to the point of browning or charring, the organic compounds they contain undergo changes in structure, producing carcinogens.
Barbecued meats seem to pose the worst health threat in this regard. When burning fat drips onto an open flame, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)-dangerous carcinogens-are formed. When amino acids and other chemicals found in muscle are exposed to high temperatures, other carcinogens, called heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), are created. In fact, many of the chemicals used to produce cancer in laboratory animals have been isolated from cooked proteins.
It is important to note, though, that cooked meats do not pose the only threat. Even browned or burned bread crusts contain a variety of carcinogenic substances.
The dangers posed by the practice of cooking foods at high temperatures or until browned or burned should not be dismissed. Although eating habits vary widely from person to person it seems safe to assume that many people consume many grams of overcooked food a day. By comparison, only half a gram of this same dangerous burned material is inhaled by someone who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. Clearly, by eating produce raw or only lightly cooked, and by greatly limiting your consumption of meat, you will be doing much to decrease you risk of cancer and, possibly, other disorders.
Use the Proper Cooking Utensils
Although raw foods have many advantages over cooked ones, nourishing soups and a variety of other dishes can be made healthfully. One of the ways to ensure wholesome cooked food is the careful selection of cookware.
When preparing foods, use only glass, stainless steel, or iron pots and pans. Do not use aluminum cookware or utensils. Food cooked or stored in aluminum produce a substance that neutralizes the digestive juices, leading to acidosis and ulcers. Worse, the aluminum in the cookware can leach from the pot into the food. When the food is consumed, the aluminum is absorbed by the body, where it accumulates in the brain and nervous system tissues. Excessive amounts of these aluminum deposits have been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
Other cookware to be avoided includes all pots and pans with nonstick coatings. Too often, the metals and other substances in the pots’ finish flakes or leaches into the food. Ultimately, these chemicals end up in your body.
Limit Your Use of Salt
Although some sodium is essential for survival, inadequate sodium intake is a rare problem. (Symptoms of salt deficiency include lightheadedness and muscle fatigue.) We need at least 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day to stay healthy. This is enough to accomplish all the vital functions that sodium performs in the body—helping maintain normal fluid levels, healthy muscle function, and proper acidity (pH) of the blood. Excessive sodium intake can cause fluid to be retained in the tissues, which can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) and can aggravate many medical disorders, including congestive heart failure, certain forms of kidney disease, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
On of the best ways to limit the sodium in your diet is to limit your consumption of processed and fast foods, which often contain excessively high amounts of sodium. Cooking at home is a perfect opportunity to control you salt intake. Last, if you can see it, avoid it—for example, in salty snacks such as pretzels and potato chips.
Mixing two or more drugs together in the body can sometimes create havoc, and instead of a health benefit the patient suffers a setback. Worse, you may be confronted with a health crisis. Most people think these unintended effects apply only to prescription drugs. However, dietary supplements and even the food we eat can interact with each, or with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs, to cause problems. Herbs and vitamins, while not in the strictest sense, are still complex organic chemicals that react with each other and with other chemicals in the body. This is, of course, how they work. Types of drug interactions that you need to be concerned can basically be summarized as follows:
1. Drugs interacting with drugs: Both prescription and OTC are included in this category. For example, if you are taking birth control pills, the antibiotic rifampin could lower their effectiveness. 2. Drugs interacting with dietary supplements: There are many documented cases of herbs and vitamins interacting with prescription and OTC drugs.The five most common natural products with potential interaction are garlic, valerian, kava, ginkgo, St. John's wort, according to a study.
3. Drugs interacting with food and beverages: It was discovered in 1991 that grapefruit juice has the ability to inhibit an enzyme that metabolizes many drugs, thus allowing levels of the drugs to build up in the body. Older adults may have a special susceptibility to this reaction.
Why are there drug interactions?In recent years, researchers have learned that there is a class of enzymes, called the CYP family of enzymes, that plays an essential role in the metabolism and detoxification of drugs. These enzymes act primarily in the liver, but also in the intestinal tract and other areas. For instance, there is a single enzyme (of the five known CYP enzymes) that plays a key role in metabolizing over half the drugs prescribed today. It is called CYP3A4 (or cytochrome P450). So, any substance—no matter whether it is another prescription drug, a common food, an OTC product, or an herbal or vitamin supplement—that either inhibits the action of this enzyme (or, conversely, increases its activity) will have a significant effect on how drugs are metabolized in the body. If more enzymes are produced, the drug is removed from the body too quickly and its effectiveness is lessened. If fewer enzymes are produced, the drug may build up in the body to toxic levels. There must be enough of the drug to be effective, but only a little bit more can be toxic to the body.
Dietary Supplements and Drug InteractionsSeveral interactions have been reported between dietary supplements and prescription medications. Work in rat showed that policosanol increased the anti-ulcer effects of cimetidine (Tagamet). Use of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may interfere with hepatic enzyme function and tamoxifen (a breast cancer drug). Some drugs, propranolol and tricyclic antidepressants, for example, lower coenzyme Q10 levels. Several drugs have been shown to lower carnitine levels, including sodium valproate, pivampicillin, and isotretinoin. Some patients using these drugs benefit from supplements of carnitine. Melatonin has been reported to interact with a number of prescription drugs. For example, serum melatonin levels increase faster taking fluvoxamine, reducing CYP3A4 enzyme activity. Melatonin interacts with nifedipine, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Chondroitin may provoke autoimmune dysfunction and interact with the drug warfarin, increasing the time it takes your blood to clot.
An allergy is an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful. The immune system is a highly complex defense mechanism that helps us to fight infections. It does this by identifying foreign invaders and mobilizing the body’s white blood cells to fight them. In some people, the immune system wrongly identifies a nontoxic substance as an invader, and the white blood cells overreact, creating more damage to the body than the invader. Thus, the allergic response becomes a disease in itself.
Typical allergic responses are nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, itching, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, and hives and other skin rashes. Substances that provoke allergic responses are called allergens. Almost any substance can cause an allergic reaction in someone, somewhere in the world, but the most common allergens are pollen, dust, certain metals (especially nickel), some cosmetics, lanolin, dust mites, animal hair, insect venom, some common drugs (such as penicillin and aspirin), some food additives (such as benzoic acid and sulphur dioxide), animal dander, and chemicals found in soap, washing powder, cleaning supplies, and many other chemicals.
Typical allergic responses are nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, itching, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, and hives and other skin rashes. Substances that provoke allergic responses are called allergens. Almost any substance can cause an allergic reaction in someone, somewhere in the world, but the most common allergens are pollen, dust, certain metals (especially nickel), some cosmetics, lanolin, dust mites, animal hair, insect venom, some common drugs (such as penicillin and aspirin), some food additives (such as benzoic acid and sulphur dioxide), animal dander, and chemicals found in soap, washing powder, cleaning supplies, and many other chemicals.
There is a difference between food allergies and food intolerances. A person with food intolerance is unable to digest and process that food correctly, usually due to a lack of a certain enzyme or enzymes. Many such people have gas, bloating, or other unpleasant reaction to something they eat. A food allergy occurs when a person’s immune system generates an antibody response to the food ingested. Milk is a good example of the distinction between an allergy and intolerance. Most people who can’t drink milk are lactose intolerant, not allergic. In rare cases (less than 10 percent), a person may have a true milk allergy where their body mounts an immune response to milk proteins rather than to the lactose (or sugar). Food intolerances can lead to allergies, however, if particles of undigested food manage to enter the bloodstream and cause a reaction known as leaky gut syndrome.
Food allergy self-testIf you suspect that you are allergic to a certain food, a simple test can help you determine if you are correct. By recording your pulse rate after consuming the food in question, you can reveal if you are having an allergic reaction. Using a watch with a second hand, sit down and relax for a few minutes. When completely relaxed, take your pulse at the wrist. Count the number of beats in a sixty-second period. Normal pulse readings, by age, are as follows: Newborn infants: 100 to 160 beats per minute Children 1 to 10 years: 70 to 120 beats per minute Children over 10: 60 to 100 beats per minute Adults: 60 to 100 beats per minute Well-trained athletes: 40 to 60 beats per minute
After taking your pulse, consume the food that you are testing for an allergic reaction. Wait twenty minutes and take your pulse again. If your pulse rate has increased more than ten beats per minute, omit this food from your diet for one month, and then retest yourself.
For the purposes of this test, it is best to use the purest form of the suspected food available. For example, if you are testing yourself for an allergy to wheat, it is better to use a bit of plain cream of wheat cereal than to use wheat bread, which contains other ingredients besides wheat. This way you will know that if you observe a reaction, it is the wheat that is responsible.
For the purposes of this test, it is best to use the purest form of the suspected food available. For example, if you are testing yourself for an allergy to wheat, it is better to use a bit of plain cream of wheat cereal than to use wheat bread, which contains other ingredients besides wheat. This way you will know that if you observe a reaction, it is the wheat that is responsible.
Detecting Hidden Food AllergiesThe first step in discovering hidden food allergies is to develop a list of suspect foods and monitor your sensitivity to these foods over four weeks.Be careful to note each time you consume one of the foods. Add up your weekly total for each food. Some of the foods that can be considered for the list are Beans and Legumes such as Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Mung beans, Pinto beans, Soybeans, Soymilk, Tofu and tofu products, and White beans, Condiments such as Catsup, Gravy, Jams and jellies, Mustard, Pepper, Pickles, Salsa, Salt, and Soy sauce, Dairy Products such as Butter, Buttermilk, Cheese, Cottage cheese, Cow's milk, Cream cheese, Eggs, Goat's milk, Ice cream, Margarine, Milk shakes, Sour cream,and Yogurt.
Once you have your list of suspect foods, omit these foods from your diet for a period of thirty days to give your body a rest from them. Then reintroduce the suspect foods, one at a time. Add only one food a day. As you add foods back to your diet, keep a diary of any symptoms you experience and monitor your reaction. If you note a reaction to any of the reintroduced foods, omit that food from your diet for another two months, then try a small amount off it again. If you have a reaction after the second reintroduction, eliminate that food from your diet permanently. By first eliminating foods, then slowly adding them back into your diet, you will be able to pinpoint exactly which foods are giving you trouble.
The Rotation DietAlthough some people have a reaction soon after ingesting a particular food for the first time, food allergies often develop slowly. The reason for this is that if you consume the same foods daily, your body eventually develops an intolerance. Rather than nourishing the body, these foods provoke harmful reactions.
Once you have identified and avoided an allergenic food for sixty to ninety days, you can usually reintroduce it without any adverse reactions, as long as you maintain a rotation diet. If you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, check with your health care provider before reintroducing the offending food. The basic principle behind the rotation diet is that each type of food is to be consumed only on one out of every four days. For example, if you eat beans on Monday, you wouldn't eat beansagain on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. If you eat salmon on Friday, you would wait at least until Tuesday before consuming any other fish. Rotating foods in this way will not only make you feel better, it will also help to stabilize your weight.
Blood is composed of four components: plasma; red blood cells; white blood cells; and platelets. Through these components, the blood performs several life-sustaining functions. The plasma is the watery, colorless liquid in which the other components float. The red blood cells transport oxygen to the cells. The white blood cells destroy bacteria and other disease-producing organisms. The platelets are needed for the blood-clotting process. In addition, blood transports nutrients to the cells and carries away wastes; transports hormones from the endocrine glands to other parts of the body; helps regulate the amounts of acids, bases, salts, and water in the cells; and helps regulate body temperature. If any of these functions is impaired, the consequences can have a direct bearing on your health.
There are several ways in which the functions carried out by the blood may be hampered. First, hundreds of chemicals—ranging from gases such as carbon monoxide to toxic metals such as lead to natural substances such as fat—can find their way into the blood and impair its function. These foreign substances enter the body through the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the surfaces with which we come in contact through the skin. Because these substances act on the blood in different ways, the adverse effect they produce may vary widely.
Second, the performance of the blood may be hampered by a lack of specific nutrients. A classic example is an iron deficiency that results in anemia. However, there are many nutrients that the blood requires on a daily basis if it is to perform normally. Finally, genetics can play a role in creating blood disorders. Sickle-cell anemia and hemophilia are two common examples of such disorders.
Blood purification techniques can act in two ways. Some help draw foreign substances out of the body, while others provide important nutrients to help restore the blood’s normal structure and maximize its performance.
Procedure for blood purificationBlood purification is achieved through the use of a special fast. (This is for healthy adults only. If you have a chronic condition, please check with your health care provider first. Pregnant and lactating women should only do this with a physician’s consent.) Once you have decided to follow a blood purification program, its vital to choose a appropriate time for fast. Consider that fasting requires the conservation of energy. Therefore, avoid fasting on a week when, for instance, you are moving your office or participating in a sports event. Also keep in mind that the cold-weather months are not an ideal time for a fast, as during the digestive process. Most important is the need to be mentally prepared. If you are “psyched up”for the fast, it is the right time to fast.
Once you have chosen the time for the fast and have prepared yourself mentally, you can begin to prepare yourself physically. For one week prior to the fast, follow a raw vegetable diet, including lots of “green drinks.” Chlorophyll, obtained from tablets or fresh juice, “pre-cleanses” the bod, making the fast less of a shock to your system. While on the fast, consume only steam-distilled water; juices; and dandelion, milk thistle, licorice root, yellow dock root, burdock root, or red clover tea or extract. Drink at least 8 to 10 cups of distilled water daily to aid in cleansing and to help carry toxins out of the body. The best juices for blood purification are lemon juice, beet juice and its tops, carrot juice, and the juices of all leafy greens. Leafy green juices are particularly important because they supply chlorophyll, an essential part of any blood purification therapy. Chlorophyll not only cleanses the blood of impurities, but also builds up the blood with important nutrients, promotes regularity, and inhibits cellular damage from radiation. This makes chlorophyll useful in the treatment of many disorders. Wheatgrass, barley, and alfalfa juices are all rich in chlorophyll. This fast provides little salt. Most diets provide too much salt, but too little can make you lightheaded and dizzy. If you feel either of these, take some clear broth.
Stay on the fast for three day, or as directed by your health care provider. Once you have completed the fast, avoid white flour and all sugars—substances that are highly refined and hard to digest. The stress placed on your body by such foods can “undo” all of the good accomplished by the fast. Ideally, these foods should be avoided all of the time. At the very least, eliminate them—as well as heated oils and fats—for at least one month after your fast.
Basic Nutritional Guide
A diet high in nutrients is the key to good health. Use the following as a guide and deciding which types of food include in your diet and which ones to avoid in order to maintain good health.
Type of Food
Foods to Avoid
Canned pork and beans, canned beans with salt or preservatives, frozen beans.
All beans (especially soy) cooked without animal fats or salt.
Alcoholic drinks, coffee, cocoa, pasteurized and/or sweetened juices and fruits drinks, soda, tea (except herbal and green tea)
Herbal teas, fresh vegetable and fruit juices, grain beverages (often sold as coffee substitutes), mineral or distilled water.
All soft cheeses, all pasteurized or artificially colored cheese products, ice cream.
Raw goat cheese, nonfat cottage cheese, kefir unsweetened yogurt, goat’s milk, raw or skim milk, buttermilk.
Fried or pickled.
Boiled or poached (limit of four weekly).
All fried fish, all shellfish, salted fish, anchovies, herring, fish canned in oil.
All freshwater whitefish, salmon, broiled or baked fish, water-packed tuna. (Limit tuna to two servings a week to avoid excessive mercury intake.)
Canned, bottled, or frozen fruits with sweeteners added; oranges.
All fresh, frozen, stewed, or dried fruits without sweeteners (except oranges, which are acidic and highly allergenic), unsulfured fruits, home-canned fruits.
All white flour products, white rice, pasta, crackers, cold cereals, instant types of oatmeal and other hot cereals.
All whole grains and products containing whole grains: cereals, breads, muffins, whole-grain crackers, cream of wheat of rye cereal, buckwheat, millet, oat, brown rice, wild rice. (Limit yeast breads to 3 servings per week.)
Beef; all forms of pork; hot dog; luncheon meats; smoked, pickled, and processed meats; corned beef; duck; goose; spare ribs; gravies; organ meats.
Skinless turkey and chicken, lamb (Limit meat to three 3-oz. serving per week.)
All salted or roasted nuts; peanuts (if suffering from a related disorder.)
All fresh raw nuts (peanuts in moderation only.)
All saturated fats, hydrogenated margarine, refined processed oils, shortenings, hardened oils
All cold-pressed oils: corn, safflower, sesame, olive, flaxseed, soybean, sunflower, and canola oils; margarine made from these oils; eggless mayonnaise.
Black or white pepper, salt, hot red peppers, all types of vinegar except pure natural apple cider vinegar.
Garlic, onions, cayenne, Spike, all herbs, dried vegetables, apple cider vinegar, tamari, miso, seaweed, dulse.
Canned soups are made with salt, preservatives, MSG, or fat stock; all creamed soups
Homemade bean (salt-and fat-free), lentil, pea, vegetable, barley, brown rice, onion.
Sprouts & seeds
All seeds cooked in oil or salt.
All slightly cooked sprouts (except alfalfa, which should be raw and washed thoroughly), wheatgrass all raw seeds.
White, brown, or raw cane sugar, corn syrups, chocolate, sugar candy, fructose (except that in fresh whole fruit), all syrups (except that in fresh whole fruit), all syrups (except pure maple syrup), all sugar substitutes, jams and jellies made with sugar.
Barley malt or rice syrup, small amounts of raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, unsulfured blackstrap molasses.
All canned or frozen with salt or additives.
All raw, fresh, frozen (no additives), or home-canned without salt (undercook vegetables slightly.)
What Is Whey?
During the manufacture of cheese, milk is curdled by means of rennet. The milk coagulates and a hard part (casein) and a liquid part (whey, also called lactoserum) appear. Whey is therefore the liquid that escapes from the curd when it is left to drain. It is transparent, yellowish-green in color, and possesses a slightly tart flavor that is fairly pleasant.
Whey can also be found in yogurt, which is another form of coagulated milk. The clear liquid that appears on the surface of yogurt when you take out a spoonful is whey. (However, the whey at the top of store-bought yogurt is not fresh and therefore is not beneficial.)
Raw whole cow’s milk contains all the nutritional elements (proteins, vitamins,
minerals, and so on) necessary for the growth of the baby calf. When this milk is curdled,
these elements will be divided between the casein and the whey. The figures provided in the table below compare the nutrients found in raw milk to the amount of each nutritional element that remains in whey after the casein has been removed.
NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION PER 100 GRAMS
This table clearly shows the distinctive characteristics of whey. Whey is poor in fats (lipids) and proteins because these two substances primarily remain in the cheese. But it is the exact opposite regarding sugar (carbohydrates):only a negligible amount remains in the cheese and most of it can be found in the whey.
It is important to note that although the protein content of whey is quite small, these proteins are of very high biological value. Furthermore, the sugar that is contained in whey is lactose, a very physiological sugar that tin body finds quite easy to metabolize.
When fresh liquid whey is transformed to make pow-dered whey, the proportion of these different elements changes again. The nutrients are naturally present in higher concentrations in the powdered form because the liquid part has been removed. But with the addition of water, this powder-based whey will reveal a concentration similar to that of fresh whey.
NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION PER 100 GRAMS
To summarize, whey is a food that is rich in lactose, is practically fat free, and contains proteins of very high biological value. It is quite rich in potassium (but poor in sodium) and contains some of the valuable vitamins found in milk.
Given that the healing virtues of whey depend on the properties and proportions of the different nutritive sub-stances it contains, we will first take a look at whey’s nutritional aspects. We will then look at the basis of its healing properties as well as in what diseases and health disorders its use is indicated. We will end the book with an explanation of how to follow a whey cure.
The Nutritional Substances in Whey
Lactose, also called milk sugar, is the form in which sugar occurs in whey. In fact, lactose is the principal component of whey and is what gives it several of its fundamental properties. In 100 grams of liquid whey there are 4.7 grams of lactose.
As a disaccharide, composed of glucose and galactose, lactose is a sugar that the body finds easy to use; consequently, it is a good energy provider. However, this is only one of its many virtues.
During the digestive process, lactose is not completely broken down in the stomach at the top of the digestive tract; it is still lactose when it enters the intestines. Far from being any kind of drawback, this is an advantage because the lactose will be transformed into lactic acid by the bacteria of the intestinal flora.
Lactic acid provides numerous benefits to the digestive system. It stimulates intestinal peristalsis—the contractions of the intestinal muscles that push the alimentary bolus (the mass of chewed food) from one end to the other of the long tube of the intestine—thereby guaran-teeing a good evacuation of wastes and fecal matters out of the body. Lactic acid acts as a gentle and physiologi-cally appropriate laxative that counteracts intestinal stasis (or laziness) and constipation.
The lactic acid that is produced from the lactose in whey also encourages the assimilation of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, by making these minerals soluble on the intestinal level. “Prepared” in this way by the action of the lactic acid, the minerals are much easier for the intestinal walls to absorb. Once absorbed, they enter the bloodstream, which carries them into the cells where the body can put them to use.
Another vital role played by lactose and lactic acid is the regulation of the intestinal flora, which is achieved by preventing the development of putrefactive bacteria.
The intestine contains as many bacteria of fermentation as it does bacteria of putrefaction. These two kinds of bacteria are antagonists, because they develop in environments governed by opposing conditions: the bacteria of fermentation in an acid environment, the bacteria of putrefaction in an alkaline environment.
Fermentation and putrefaction are a normal part of the digestive process. However, in certain conditions, one of these two kinds of bacteria will multiply to an excessive extent and the process governed by that bacteria (fermentation or putrefaction) will become pathological.
This takes place when the environment at the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the colon is altered. Here, the environment should be acidic to permit the bacteria of fermentation to perform their task of digesting the cellulose of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. When a person’s diet includes only a small percentage of these foods, the environment will become alkaline instead, thereby encouraging the unbalanced development of putre-fying bacteria. These bacteria will then attack the proteins that are passing through this area (from meats, cheeses, and so forth) and cause them to putrefy. Because the intestinal flora is now imbalanced, these will no longer be the normal putrefactions of the digestive process, but pathological putrefactions that produce a large number of toxic substances, including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, skatole, and indole.
These toxins cause distension, flatulence, and irritation of the intestinal mucous membranes. The damage to the mucous membranes allows the toxins to enter the blood where they cause a latent state of self-poisoning (autointoxication). The severity of gastrointestinal discomfort a person will experience is in direct proportion to the extent of the pathological putrefaction and the quantity of toxins that has resulted.
Whey’s contribution of lactose is invaluable because it encourages the rebalancing of the intestinal flora. Lactose is the preferred food of fermenting bacteria; as the environment acidifies with the production of lactic acid, the development of putrefying bacteria is inhibited.
In addition to the lactic acid that is formed from lactose by the action of the bacteria in the intestinal flora, whey already contains lactic acid that was produced by bacteria during the manufacturing of the cheese. In 100 grams of fresh whey, there is approximately 0.5 gram of lactic acid.
Studies have shown that there are two kinds of lac tic acid: L+ lactic acid and D- lactic acid. Of these two, 1,-1- is the most beneficial because the body possesses the cnzyme that allows the system to make use of it. The ktctic acid produced from lactose in the intestines is this more useable form, L+, as is that generated by the muscles as they burn sugars (which in excess can cause muscle aches and stiffness).
The body has greater difficulty using D- lactic acid. Because of its acidic nature and the fact that the body cannot break it down, too large a quantity of the D-type exposes the body to the danger of acidification. The World Health Organization cautions against consuming more than 100 milligrams of D- lactic acid per 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of body weight a day. For a person weighing 150 pounds (60 kilos), this amounts to no more than 6000 milligrams, or 6 grams. Infants and children have a reduced capacity to neutralize D- lactic acids, so it is even more important that they heed these recommendations.
Now, the lactic acid found in fresh whey is entirely L+ lactic acid, the kind that is easily adaptable to human physiology. This is also true for whey in powder form. However, as mentioned earlier, whey is a food that is very hard to preserve. With every passing hour it deteriorates and changes until it becomes undrinkable because the L+ lactic acids are gradually transformed into D- lactic acids. This is why, before the development of the powdered form, whey cures were generally taken in health spas where whey could be consumed immediately after it had been manufactured. The 6-gram daily limit of D- lactic acid can be found in 1.2 liters of old whey.
Whey contains very little fat: 0.3 gram in 100 grams of liquid whey. This is a negligible quantity in principle; in practice, whey is considered to be fat free. This, among other reasons, makes it an ideal food for those dieting to lose weight.
There are 26 calories per 100 grams of liquid whey. These calories are not from fats (whey has only a negligible quantity), but from lactose, which as previously mentioned is a sugar that the body can metabolize easily.
Furthermore, the calories provided by whey are full calories rather than the empty calories found in white rice, white sugar, and white bread. Whey calories are accompanied by a number of minerals and vitamins and a re therefore much easier for the body to use.
Whey is a food that is especially rich in mineral salts. They amount to 5 percent of its total weight. The principal minerals found in whey will be discussed in this section.
Whey is extremely rich in potassium. Potassium plays an essential role in the processes of assimilation and catabolism on the cellular level, in the transmission of nerve impulses, and in muscular contractions (if there is a potassium deficiency, cramps occur). Furthermore, it is an activator of numerous enzymes.
Potassium is also a foe of sodium (salt), which means that the more potassium there is in the tissues the greater the amount of sodium is driven out of the body, and with it the water it retains. Each gram of salt retains 11 grams of water. By driving out the excess sodium, potassium triggers a powerful diuretic effect. In the case of a potassium deficiency,more sodium collects in the tissues and with it excess fluid causing edema (an abnormal accumuation of fluid).
The high amount of potassium in whey provides the foundation for its principal healing virtues: its diuretic action and its ability to eliminate toxins.
Whey is a valuable source of calcium, which is an indis-pensable mineral for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones and teeth and is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses. Calcium is especially recommended for children and those who are pregnant or nursing because the system’s need for calcium is much greater at these time.
Calcium deficiency can lead to diseases such as osteo-porosis, hypersensitive nerves, insomnia, and rickets.
Whey also contains magnesium, which has important functions in the nervous system, where it simultaneously strengthens and relaxes, and in the immune system, whose defensive capacities it reinforces. In addition to its antiviral action, magnesium lowers blood cholesterol and inhibits sclerosis in the blood vessels, both of which benefit the entire cardiovascular system by helping the heart perform its duties.
Phosphorus is a very useful substance for the nervous system and for brain functions. A deficiency in phosphorus will cause mental fatigue, reducing the brain’s ability to concentrate and remember. Phosphorus, which is present in whey, is therefore highly recommended in cases of memory loss.
Whey is known for having very low sodium. This is particularly important because excess salt in the tissues will retain water, and with this water, toxins, which can cause high blood pressure, tire the heart and overwork the kidneys, which are responsible for eliminating salt from the body.
The fact that whey is rich in potassium, the enemy of salt, and at the same time contains very little sodium itself, reinforces the beneficial aspects of its low-sodium nature.
In addition to the minerals we just examined, whey also contains vitamins, though in somewhat lesser quantities. Vitamins A, 131, B2, B3, Bs, B6, C, D, and E are present in whey. Of these, it possesses the greatest quantity of B„ or riboflavin.
A deficiency of vitamin B2 will lead to an exaggerated sensitivity of the eyes to light (as does a vitamin A deficiency), a tendency to tearing, red eyes, red blotches on the face, oily and puffy skin, and cracks at the edges of the lips.
The Nutritive Value of Whey
The Healing Properties of Whey
Whey’s benefits are not limited to its nutritious properties; it also has numerous healing properties. Contrary to other remedies or foods that act only on a single organ or in a single manner, whey’s healing action works in multiple fashions. It acts on the intestines, liver, and kidneys,while encouraging assimilatory and eliminatory functions. This chapter will detail the multivalent healing properties of whey.
Assimilation, by which is meant the cells’ potential to receive all the nutritive substances they need (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins), is improved by whey in three different ways.
- Minerals are transformed into a soluble state by lacticacid, making them easier to assimilate.
Benefits Of Whey
The health concerns that can be affected positively by whey cures will be listed here—ranging from general concerns, such as fatigue and the effects of antibiotic
treatment, to serious ailments such as cardiovascular diseases.
For each, a short explanation of the causes of the disease will be provided along with the manner in which whey can act on the disorders. This is by no means an exhaustive list; as we have seen, thanks to its general action of correcting the body’s internal cellular environment, numerous other problems can be cured by whey.
Therefore, only the principal indications will be dealt with here.
Digestive problems (indigestion, gas, diarrhea) are possible side effects of antibiotic treatments; antibiotics in fact destroy the beneficial bacteria of the intestinal flora. The lactose contained in whey allows this intestinal flora to rebuild itself more quickly and easily.
When the muscles are worked, acid wastes are produced that reduce the body’s resistance and strength. By encouraging elimination of acid through the kidneys, whey allows athletes to increase the time they are able to perform or work out; it also reduces the time necessary for recuperation afterward.
Certain forms of cystitis (bladder infection) occur when the intestinal flora is out of balance and its microorganisms mutate and become virulent. Whey acts directly on the intestinal flora, working to correct the imbalance while also expelling microbes from the bladder by diuresis.
BLOOD VISCOSITY AND HIGH CHOLESTEROL
Blood is the principal link in the chain of cardiovascular disorders. The wastes transported by blood become deposited on the walls of the vessels and the walls of the heart, hindering blood flow and blocking its passage to a greater extent as time goes by. The purifying action of whey on the liver, kidneys, and intestines helps blood retain its purity and fluidity.
CONSTIPATION OR INTESTINAL LAZINESS
When an intestine is described as lazy, it means that it empties itself only on an episodic basis and does not evacuate all its contents; this occurs when intestinal peristalsis is insufficient. Peristalsis can be stimulated by the lactic acid and lactose that whey brings into the body. Whey has even proven effective at reeducating intestinal function among those people who have relied too heavily on the use of laxatives and purgatives to do what their hod ies could no longer do.
Whey helps reduce sugar levels in the blood by stimulating the work performed by the liver and kidneys. Its lactose is suitable for consumption by diabetics, but the amount ingested must be calculated. Three level tablespoons of powdered whey are equal to one serving of bread.
FATIGUE, LACK OF ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM
When it is not a result of overwork, lack of sleep, or stress, fatigue is often due to the fact that the body cannot function freely because of the toxins that are clogging the system. By cleansing the body, whey contributes to the restoration of normal energy circulation.
GAS AND BLOATING
Because whey supports and restores the beneficial bacteria of the intestinal flora, it prevents putrefaction and the production of gas.
HEART ATTACK AND STROKE
After the emergency treatment required, whey makes it possible to correct the internal environment that is ulti-mately the cause of the disorders (blood viscosity, excess weight, high blood pressure).
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in the anus with four possible causes: local irritations from intestinal toxins, deformation of the vessel resulting from excessive pressure by fecal matter, liver congestion, and high viscosity of the blood. The properties of whey will act on all four of these causes and therefore provide effective treatment for hemorrhoids.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
There are numerous causes of high blood pressure. Whey acts effectively upon the following: excessive viscosity of the blood, water retention, excess salt in the tissues, and even clogging of the vessels and kidneys.
The lactose provided by whey is the food of choice for intestinal flora, which plays an important role in the digestive process. Whey also allows for better digestion through the support it offers the liver by encouraging the production of bile, a digestive fluid that is essential for the digestion of fatty substances. Whey is therefore an ideal treatment for chronic indigestion.
Rheumatic disorders, such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, and sciatica, are caused by toxins that attack and create lesions in the joints, toxins deposited in the interspatial area of the joints, and the demineralization of the cartilage and bone by acids. The chronic nature of these problems stems from poor diet and poor elimination. The detoxifying and mineral-restoring properties of whey therefore contribute valuable assistance to the treatment of all these diseases.
Whey is a physiologically suitable diuretic that will not irritate diseased kidneys.
When the kidneys are working too slowly, wastes will collect in their tissues and tubular areas in the form of grit or stones. The diuretic effect of whey stimulates the kidneys and increases the amount of fluid that is transiting through them, thereby ridding the kidneys of these deposits.
LIVER DISEASES AND INSUFFICIENCIES
By cleansing the intestinal environment, whey provides relief to the liver, which can then regenerate and begin functioning more actively again. Whey can be used in cases of hepatic laziness, gallstones, jaundice, and cirrhosis.
MUSCULAR SPASMS AND CRAMPS
Muscular spasms and cramps are often due to deficiencies in potassium and magnesium and are easily remedied by the high content of potassium and other minerals in whey.
The skin is the mirror of the body, reflecting the state of the internal cellular environment. When the main excre-tory organs are not sufficiently ridding the body of its wastes and the body becomes overloaded with toxins, it will seek to eliminate them through the skin. If the pres-ence of toxins is too large, they will congest the sudorif-erous and sebaceous glands and irritate the skin, causing pimples and producing eczema and other skin disorders.
The treatment of skin disorders, therefore, should be targeted less at the surface level of the skin; it should involve detoxification of the entire body and rebalancing of the intestinal environment, which is the primary source of wastes.
WATER RETENTION AND EDEMA
Because of its high potassium content and the diuretic effect that potassium has on the system, whey effectively expels excess water being retained in the body.
Whey is an ideal food for a weight-loss diet. It helps the body rid itself of wastes and excess water. As natural as bread and potatoes, whey can be eaten on a daily basis. Although it is dietetic, it still provides a small protein base, a light energy boost, and numerous minerals that permit the body to continue performing necessary tasks. Furthermore, eaten half an hour before meals, whey will reduce the sensation of hunger.
Introduction to Amino Acids
Amino acids are the chemical units, or “building blocks,” as they are popularly called, that make up proteins. They also are the end products of protein digestion, or hydrolysis.
Amino acids contain about 16 percent nitrogen. Chemically, this is what distinguishes them from the other two basic nutrients, sugars and fatty acids, which do not contain nitrogen.
To understand how vital amino acids are, you must understand how essential proteins are to life. It is protein that provides the structure for all living things. Every living organism, from the largest animal to the tiniest microbe, is composed of protein. In its various forms, protein participates in the vital chemical processes that sustain life.
Proteins are a necessary part of every living cell in the body. Next to water, protein makes up the greatest portion of our body weight. In the human body, protein substances make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and many vital body fluids, and are essential for the growth of bones. The enzymes and hormones that catalyze and regulate all bodily processes are proteins. Proteins help to regulate the body’s water balance and maintain the proper internal pH. They assist in the exchange of nutrients between the intercellular fluids and the tissues, blood, and lymph. A deficiency of protein can upset the body’s fluid balance, causing edema. Proteins form the structural basis of chromosomes, through which genetic information is passed from parents to offspring. The genetic “code” contained in each cell’s DNA is actually information for how to make that cell’s proteins.
Proteins are chains of amino acids linked together by what are called peptide bonds. Each individual type of protein is composed of a specific group of amino acids in a specific chemical arrangement. It is the particular amino acids present and the way in which they are linked together in sequence that gives the proteins that make up the various tissues their unique functions and characters. Each protein in the body is tailored for a specific need; proteins are not interchangeable.
The proteins that make up the human body are not obtained directly from the diet. Rather, dietary protein is broken down into its constituent amino acids, which the body then uses to build the specific proteins it needs. Thus, it is the amino acids rather than protein that are the essential nutrients.
In addition to those that combine to form the body’s proteins, there are other amino acids that are important in metabolic functions. Some, such as citrulline, glutathione, ornithine, and taurine, can be similar to (or by-products of) the protein-building amino acids. Some act as neurotransmitters or as precursors of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that carry information from one nerve cell to another. Certain amino acids are thus necessary for the brain to receive and send messages. Unlike many other substances, neurotransmitters are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier. This is a kind of defensive shield designed to protect the brain from toxins and foreign invaders that may be circulating in the bloodstream. The endothelial cells that make up the walls of the capillaries in the brain are much more tightly meshed together than are those of capillaries elsewhere in the body. This prevents many substances, es-pecially water-based substances, from diffusing through the capillary walls into brain tissue. Because certain amino acids can pass through this barrier, they can be used by the brain to communicate with nerve cells elsewhere in the body.
Amino acids also enable vitamins and minerals to perform their jobs properly. Even if vitamins and minerals are absorbed and assimilated by the body, they cannot be effective unless the necessary amino acids are present. For example, low levels of the amino acid tyrosine may lead to iron deficiency. Deficiency and/or impaired metabolism of the amino acids methionine and taurine has been linked to allergies and autoimmune disorders. Many elderly people suffer from depression or neurological problems that may be associated with deficiencies of the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, and histidine, and also of the branched-chain amino acids—valine, isoleucine, and leucine.
These are amino acids that can be used to provide energy directly to muscle tissue. High doses of branched- chain amino acids have been used in hospitals to treat people suffering from trauma and infection. Some people are born with an inability to metabolize the branched-chain amino acids. This potentially life-threatening condition, branched-chain ketoaciduria (often referred to as maple syrup urine disease because keto acids released into the urine cause it to smell like maple syrup), can result in neurological damage and necessitates a special diet, including a synthetic infant formula that does not contain leucine, isoleucine, or valine.
There are approximately twenty-eight commonly known amino acids that are combined in various ways to create the hundreds of different types of proteins present in all living things. In the human body, the liver produces about 80 percent of the amino acids needed. The remaining 20 percent must be obtained from the diet. These are called the essential amino acids. The essential amino acids that must enter the body through diet are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Although infants need to obtain histidine from their diet, most adult bodies can make enough. The nonessential amino acids, which can be manufactured in the body from other amino acids obtained from dietary sources, include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, citrulline, cysteine, cystine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine, taurine, and tyrosine.
The fact that they are termed nonessential does not mean that they are not necessary, only that they need not be obtained through the diet because the body can manufacture them as needed. Nonessential amino acids can indeed become essential under certain conditions. For instance, the nonessential amino acids cysteine and tyrosine are made from the essential amino acids methionine and phenylalanine. If methionine and phenylalanine are not available in sufficient quantities, cysteine and tyrosine then become essential in the diet. Also, in times of stress such as an illness, both arginine and glutamine are considered to be “conditionally essential.” Hospitalized patients have benefitted from amino acid supplements of each to enhance the functioning of their immune systems. Arginine is popular with body builders, who claim they feel a rush of blood flow, which helps them lift heavier weights.
The processes of assembling amino acids to make proteins, and of breaking down proteins into individual amino acids for the body’s use, are continuous ones. When we need more enzyme proteins, the body produces more enzyme proteins; when we need more cells, the body produces more proteins for cells. These different types of proteins are produced as the need arises. Should the body become depleted of its reserves of any of the essential amino acids, it would not be able to produce the proteins that require those amino acids. An inadequate supply of even one essential amino acid can hinder the synthesis, and reduce body levels, of necessary proteins. This can result in negative nitrogen balance, an unhealthy condition in which the body excretes more nitrogen than it assimilates. Further, all of the essential amino acids must be present simultaneously in the diet in order for the other amino acids to be utilized—otherwise, the body remains in negative nitrogen balance. A lack of vital proteins in the body can cause problems ranging from indigestion to depression to stunted growth.
How could such a situation occur? More easily than you might think. Many factors can contribute to deficiencies of essential amino acids, even if you eat a well-balanced diet that contains enough protein. Impaired absorption, infection, trauma, stress, drug use, age, and imbalances of other nutrients can all affect the availability of essential amino acids in the body. Insufficient intake of vitamins and min-erals, especially vitamin C, can interfere with the absorption of amino acids in the lower part of the small intestines. Vitamin B6 is needed also, for the transport of amino acids in the body.
If your diet is not properly balanced—that is, if it fails to supply adequate amounts of the essential amino acids— sooner or later, this will become apparent as some type of physical disorder. When the brain senses the lack of any of the essential amino acids, it immediately sends a signal to the muscles to release some of their tissue. Human muscle is rich in essential amino acids, so it can support the vital organs like the liver and heart during times of poor intake. Sometimes in the case of cancer patients who are unable to eat, a massive muscle wasting called cachexia will occur. This condition can be reversed with food, but it takes a long time.
This does not mean, however, that eating a diet containing enormous amounts of protein is the answer. In fact, it is unhealthy to consume a diet that is deficient in protein or one that contains too much. Excess protein puts undue stress on the kidneys and the liver, which are faced with processing the waste products of protein metabolism. Nearly half of the amino acids in dietary protein are trans-formed into glucose by the liver and utilized to provide needed energy to the cells. This process results in a waste product, ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to the body, so the body protects itself by having the liver turn the ammonia into a much less toxic compound, urea, which is then carried through the bloodstream, filtered out by the kidneys, and excreted.
As long as protein intake is not too great and the liver is working properly, ammonia is neutralized almost as soon as it is produced, so it does no harm. However, if there is too much ammonia for the liver to cope with—as a result of too much protein consumption, poor digestion, and/or a defect in liver function—toxic levels may accumulate.
Strenuous exercise also tends to promote the accumulation of excess ammonia. This may put a person at risk for serious health problems, including encephalopathy (brain disease) or hepatic coma. Abnormally high levels of urea can also cause problems, including inflamed kidneys and back pain.
It is possible to take supplements containing amino acids, both essential and nonessential. For certain disorders, taking supplements of specific amino acids can be very beneficial. When you take a specific amino acid or amino acid combination, it supports the metabolic pathway involved in your particular illness. Vegetarians, especially vegans, would be wise to take a formula containing all of the essential amino acids to ensure that their protein requirements are met.
THE ABCs OF AMINO ACIDS
Alanine plays a major role in the transfer of nitrogen from peripheral tissue to the liver. It aids in the metabolism of glucose, a simple carbohydrate that the body uses for energy.
Alanine also guards against the buildup of toxic substances that are released in the muscle cells when muscle protein is broken down to meet energy needs quickly, such as happens with aerobic exercise. Epstein-Barr virus and chronic fatigue syndrome have been associated with excessive alanine levels and low levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine. One form of alanine, beta-alanine, is a constituent of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and coenzyme A, a vital catalyst in the body.
Research has found that for people with insulin- dependent diabetes, taking an oral dose of L-alanine can be more effective than a conventional bedtime snack in preventing nighttime hypoglycemia.
Arginine retards the growth of tumors and cancer by enhancing immune function. It increases the size and activity of the thymus gland, which manufactures T lymphocytes (T cells), crucial components of the immune system. Arginine may therefore benefit those suffering from AIDS and malignant diseases that suppress the immune system. It is also good for liver disorders such as cirrhosis of the liver and fatty liver; it aids in liver detoxification by neutralizing ammonia. It may also reduce the effects of chronic alcohol toxicity.
Seminal fluid contains arginine. Studies suggest that sexual maturity may be delayed by arginine deficiency; conversely, arginine is useful in treating sterility in men. It is found in high concentrations in the skin and connective tissues, making it helpful for healing and repair of damaged tissue.
Arginine is important for muscle metabolism. It helps to maintain a proper nitrogen balance by acting as a vehicle for transportation and storage, and aiding in the excretion, of excess nitrogen. Studies have shown that it also reduces nitrogen losses in people who have undergone surgery, and improves the function of cells in lymphatic tissue. This amino acid aids in weight loss because it facilitates an increase in muscle mass and a reduction of body fat. It is also involved in a variety of enzymes and hormones. It aids in stimulating the pancreas to release insulin, is a component of the pituitary hormone vasopressin, and assists in the release of growth hormones. Because arginine is a component of collagen and aids in building new bone and tendon cells, it can be good for arthritis and connective tissue disorders.
Scar tissue that forms during wound healing is made up of collagen, which is rich in arginine. A variety of functions, including insulin production, glucose tolerance, and liver lipid metabolism, are impaired if the body is deficient in arainine.
This amino acid can be produced in the body; however, in newborn infants, production may not occur quickly enough to keep up with requirements. It is therefore deemed essential early in life. Foods high in arginine in- chide carob, chocolate, coconut, dairy products, gelatin, meat, oats, peanuts, soybeans, walnuts, white flour, wheat, and wheat germ. Eating watermelon can increase plasma a-a- nine levels because watermelon is rich in citrulline, which is a precursor to arginine. Some people who engage strength-training activities might want to increase nitric oxide levels to increase blood flow and enhance performance. One study showed that taking 3 grams of arginine a day with a protein supplement slightly increased nitric oxide production and did not cause harm.
People with viral infections such as herpes should not take supplemental arginine, and should avoid foods rich in argnine and low in the amino acid lysine, as this appears to promote the growth of certain viruses. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid L-arginine supplements. Persons with schizophrenia should avoid amounts over 30 milligrams daily. Long-term use, especially of high doses, is not recommended. One study found that several weeks of large doses might result in thickening and coarsening of the skin.
Asparagine created from another amino acid, aspartic is needed to maintain balance in the central nervous system; it prevents you from being either overly nervous or overly calm. As it is converted back into aspartic acid, asparagine releases energy that brain and nervous system cells use for metabolism. It promotes the process by which one amino acid is transformed into another in the liver.
Because aspartic acid increases stamina, it is good for fatigue and depression, and plays a vital role in metabolism. Chronic fatigue. syndrome may result from low levels of aspartic acid, because this leads to lowered cellular energy. In proper balance, aspartic acid is beneficial for neural and brain disorders; it has been found in increased levels in persons with epilepsy and in decreased levels in people with some types of depression. It is good for athletes and helps to protect the liver by aiding in the removal of excess ammonia.
Aspartic acid combines with other amino acids to form molecules that absorb toxins and remove them from the bloodstream. It also helps to move certain minerals across the intestinal lining and into the blood and cells, aids cell function, and aids the function of RNA and DNA, which are the carriers of genetic information. It enhances the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies (immune system proteins). Plant protein, especially that found in sprouting seeds, contains an abundance of aspartic acid. The artificial sweetener aspartame is made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine, another amino acid.
Carnitine is not an amino acid in the strictest sense (it is actually a substance related to the B vitamins). However, because it has a chemical structure similar to that of amino acids, it is usually considered together with them.
Unlike true amino acids, carnitine is not used for protein synthesis or as a neurotransmitter. Its main function in the body is to help transport long-chain fatty acids, which are burned within the cells, mainly in the mitochondria, to provide energy. This is a major source of energy for the muscles. Carnitine thus increases the use of fat as an energy source. This prevents fatty buildup, especially in the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles. Carnitine may be useful in treating chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), because a disturbance in the function of the mitochondria (the site of energy production within the cells) may be a factor in fatigue. Studies have shown decreased carnitine levels in many people with CFS.
Carnitine reduces the health risks posed by poor fat metabolism associated with diabetes; inhibits alcohol-induced fatty liver; and lessens the risk of heart disorders.
Studies have shown that damage to the heart from cardiac surgery can be reduced by treatment with carnitine. According to study by a Journal of Cardiology showed that proprionyl-L-carnitine, a carnitine derivative, helps to ease the severe pain of intermittent claudication, a condition in which a blocked artery in the thigh decreases the supply of blood and oxygen to leg muscles, causing pain, especially with physical activity. Carnitine has the ability to lower blood triglyceride levels, aid in weight loss, improve the motility of sperm, and improve muscle strength in people with neuromuscular disorders. It may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, carnitine deficiency may be a contributor to certain types of muscular dystrophy, and it has been shown that these dis-orders lead to losses of carnitine in the urine. People with such conditions need greater-than-normal amounts of carnitine. Carnitine has also been shown to reduce fatigue, which is common in many diseases. In studies, people with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine) and people with cancer had more energy with carnitine supplementation.
Carnitine also enhances the effectiveness of the antioxidant vitamins E and C. It works with antioxidants to help slow the aging process by promoting the synthesis of carnitine acetyl-transferase, an enzyme in the mitochondria of brain cells that is vital for the production of cellular energy there. Supplemental carnitine has been shown to reduce damage to the bad cholesterol, LDL, in patients with type 2 diabetes. This shows that carnitine is effective at limiting the oxidative stress that is common in diabetes and many other conditions.
The body can manufacture carnitine if sufficient amounts of iron, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and the amino acids lysine and methionine are available. The synthesis of carnitine also depends on the presence of adequate levels of vitamin C. Inadequate intake of any of these nutrients can result in a carnitine deficiency. Carnitine can also be obtained from food, primarily meats and other foods of animal origin.
Many cases of carnitine deficiency have been identified as partly genetic in origin, resulting from an inherited defect in carnitine synthesis. Possible symptoms of deficiency include confusion, heart pain, muscle weakness, and obesity.
Because of their generally greater muscle mass, men need more carnitine than do women. Vegetarians are more likely than nonvegetarians to be deficient in carnitine be-cause it is not found in vegetable protein. Moreover, neither methionine nor lysine, two of the key constituents from which the body makes carnitine, are obtainable from vegetable sources in sufficient amounts. To ensure adequate production of carnitine, vegetarians should take supplements or should eat grains, such as cornmeal, that have been fortified with lysine.
Supplemental carnitine is available in different forms, including D-carnitine, L-carnitine, and DL-carnitine. DLcarnitine is not recommended, as it may cause toxicity.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), a carnitine derivative produced naturally in the body, is involved in carbohydrate and protein metabolism and in the transport of fats into the mitochondria. It increases levels of carnitine in tissues and even surpasses the metabolic potency of carnitine. ALC has become one of the most studied compounds for its antiaging effects, particularly with regard to degeneration of the brain and nervous system. Several major studies have shown that daily supplementation with ALC significantly slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in less deterioration in memory, attention and language, and spatial abilities.
It also can be used to treat other cognitive disorders, as well as depression. ALC provides numerous other benefits to many of the body’s systems. It helps to limit damage caused by oxygen starvation, enhance the immune system, protect against oxidative stress, stimulate the antioxidant activity of certain enzymes, protect membranes, slow cerebral aging, prevent nerve disease associated with diabetes and sciatica, modulate hormonal changes caused by physical stress, and increase the performance-enhancing benefits of branched-chain amino acids.
Total brain levels of ALC (and carnitine) decline with age. In most of the studies of ALC done with humans, subjects took 500 to 2,500 milligrams daily, in divided doses. No toxic or serious side effects have been reported.
L-carnosine is a dipeptide composed of two bonded amino acids—alanine and histidine. It is found naturally in the body, particularly in brain tissue, the heart, skin, muscles, kidneys, and stomach. Carnosine levels in the body decline with age. This compound has the ability to help prevent glycosylation, the cross linking of proteins with sugars to form advanced glycosylation end products, or AGEs. This effect may be beneficial for combating diabetes, kidney failure, neuropathy, and aging in general.
To date, no serious side effects have been noted in trials. The normal oral dose is 100 to 500 milligrams daily (with occasional breaks). Avoid megadosing. This is the oral form, not the eyedrop form used in Russia for cataract treatment (that is N-alpha-acetylcarnosine).
The body makes citrulline from another amino acid, ornithine. Citrulline promotes energy, stimulates the immune system, is metabolized to form L-arginine, and detoxifies ammonia, which damages living cells. Citrulline is found primarily in the liver. It is helpful in treating fatigue.
Cysteine and Cystine
These two amino acids are closely related; each molecule of cystine consists of two molecules of cysteine joined together.
Cysteine is very unstable and is easily converted to L-cystine; however, each form is capable of converting into the other as needed. Both are sulfur-containing amino acids that aid in the formation of skin and are important in detoxification.
Cysteine is present in alpha-keratin, the chief protein constituent of the fingernails, toenails, skin, and hair. Cysteine aids in the production of collagen and promotes the proper elasticity and texture of the skin. It is also found in a variety of other proteins in the body, including several of the digestive enzymes.
Cysteine helps to detoxify harmful toxins and protect the body from radiation damage. It is one of the best free radical destroyers, and works best when taken with selenium and vitamin E. Cysteine is also a precursor to glutathione, a substance that detoxifies the liver by binding with potentially harmful substances there. It helps to protect the liver and brain from damage due to alcohol, drugs, and toxic compounds in cigarette smoke.
Since cysteine is more soluble than cystine, it is used more readily in the body and is usually best for treating most illnesses. This amino acid is formed from L-methionine in the body. Vitamin B6 ,vitamin B12 , and folate are necessary for cysteine synthesis, which may not take place as it should in the presence of chronic disease. Therefore, people with chronic illnesses may need higher-than-normal doses of cysteine, as much as 1,000 milligrams three times daily for a month at a time.
Supplementation with L-cysteine is recommended in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, hardening of the artheries, and mutogenic disorders such as cancer. It promotes healing after surgery and severe burns, chelates heavy metals, and binds with soluble iron, aiding in iron absorption. This amino acid also promotes the burning of fat and building of muscle. Because of its ability to break down mucus in the respiratory tract, L-cysteine is often beneficial in the treatment of bronchitis, emphysema, and tuberculosis. It promotes healing from respiratory disorders and plays an important role in the activity of white blood cells, which fight disease.
Cystine or the N-acetyl form of cysteine (N-acetylcysteine, NAC) may be used in place of L-cysteine. NAC aids in preventing side effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Because it increases glutathione levels in the lungs, kidneys, liver, and bone marrow, it has an antiaging effect the body—reducing the accumulation of age spots, for example. NAC has been shown to be more effective at boosting glutathione levels than supplements of cystine or of glutathione itself.
People who have diabetes should be cautious about taking supplemental cysteine because it is capable of inactivating insulin. Persons with cystinuria, a rare genetic condition that leads to the formation of cystine kidney stones, also should not take cysteine.
Gamma-Aminobutryric Acid (GABA) is an amino acid that acts as, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It is essential for brain metabolism, aiding in proper brain function. GABA is formed in the body from another aminoa cid, glutamic acid. Its function is to decrease neuron activity and inhibit nerve cells from overfiring. Together with niacinamide and inositol, it prevents anxiety- and stress- related messages from reaching the motor centers of the brain by occupying their receptor sites.
GABA can be taken to calm the body in much the same way as diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and other tranquilizers, but without the fear of addiction. It has been used in the treatment of epilepsy and hypertension.
GABA is good for depressed sex drive because of its ability as a relaxant. It is also useful for enlarged prostate glands, probably because it plays a role in the mechanism regulating the release of sex hormones. GABA is effective in treating attention deficit disorder and may reduce cravings for alcohol. It is also thought to promote growth hormone secretion.
Too much GABA, however, can cause increased anxiety, shortness of breath, numbness around the mouth, and tingling in the extremities. Further, abnormal levels of GABA unbalance the brain’s message-delivery system and may cause seizures.
Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid found in the muscles of the body. Because it can readily pass the blood-brain barrier, it is known as brain fill. In the brain, glutamine is converted into glutamic which is essential for cerebral function—and vice versa. It also increases the amount 61 GABA, which is needed to sustain proper brain function and mental activity. It assists in maintaining the proper acid/alkaline balance in the body, and is the basis of the building blocks for the synthesis of RNA and DNA. It promotes mental ability and the maintenance of a healthy digestive tract.
When an amino acid is broken down, nitrogen is released. The body needs nitrogen, but free nitrogen can form ammonia, which is especially toxic to brain tissues. The liver can convert nitrogen into urea, which is excreted in the urine, or nitrogen may attach itself to glutamic acid. This process forms glutamine. Glutamine is unique among the amino acids in that each molecule contains not one nitrogen atom but two. Thus, its creation helps to clear ammonia from the tissues, especially brain tissue, and it can transfer nitrogen from one place to another.
Glutamine is found in large amounts in the muscles and is readily available when needed for the synthesis of skeletal muscle proteins. Because this amino acid helps to build and maintain muscle, supplemental glutamine is useful for dieters and bodybuilders. More important, it helps to prevent the kind of muscle wasting that can accompany pro-longed bed rest or diseases such as cancer and AIDS. This is because stress and injury (including surgical trauma) cause the muscles to release glutamine into the bloodstream. In addition, glutamine helps strengthen the lining of the intestinal tract, so that nutrients are more efficiently absorbed. This is important for wasting diseases such as cancer.
In fact, during times of stress, as much as one third of the glutamine present in the muscles may be released. As a result, stress and/or illness can lead to the loss of skeletal muscle. If enough glutamine is available, however, this can be prevented.
Supplemental L-glutamine can be helpful in the treatment of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, fibrosis, intestinal disorders, peptic ulcers, connective tissue diseases such as polymyositis and scleroderma, and tissue damage due to radiation treatment for cancer. L-glutamine can enhance mental functioning and has been used to treat a range of problems, including developmental disabilities, epilepsy, fatigue, impotence, depression, schizophrenia, and senility
It preserves glutathione in the liver and protects that organ from the effects of acetaminophen overdose. It enhances antioxidant protection. L-glutamine decreases sugar cravings and the desire for alcohol, and is useful for recovering alcoholics.
Many plant and animal substances contain glutamine, but cooking easily destroys it. If eaten raw, spinach and parsley are good sources. Supplemental glutamine must be kept absolutely dry or the powder will degrade into ammonia and pyroglutamic acid. Glutamine should not be taken by persons with cirrhosis of the liver, kidney problems, Reye’s syndrome, or any type of disorder that can result in an accumulation of ammonia in the blood. For such individuals, taking supplemental glutamine may only cause further damage to the body. Be aware that although the names sound similar, glutamine, glutamic acid ( also sometimes called glutamate), glutathione, gluten, and monosodium glutamate are all different substances.
Like carnitine, glutathione is not technically one of the amino acids. It is a compound classified as a tripeptide and the body produces it from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Because of its close relationship to these amino acids, however, it is usually considered together with them.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is produced in the liver. The largest stores of glutathione are found in the liver, where it detoxifies harmful compounds so that they can be excreted through the bile. Some glutathione is released from the liver directly into the bloodstream, where it helps to maintain the integrity of red blood cells and pro-tect white blood cells. Glutathione is also found in the lungs and the intestinal tract. It is needed for carbohydrate metabolism and appears to exert antiaging effects, aiding in the breakdown of oxidized fats that may contribute to atherosclerosis.
It can mitigate some of the damage caused by tobacco smoke because it modifies the harmful effects of aldehydes, chemicals present in cigarette smoke that damage cells and molecules, and it may protect the liver from alcohol-induced damage.
A deficiency of glutathione first affects the nervous system, causing such symptoms as lack of coordination, mental disorders, tremors, and difficulty maintaining balance. These problems are believed to be due to the development of lesions in the brain. A study sponsored in part by the National Cancer Institute found that people with HIV disease who had low glutathione levels had a lower survival rate over a three-year period than those whose glutathione levels were normal. As we age, glutathione levels decline, although it is not known whether this is because we use it more rapidly or produce less of it to begin with. Unfortunately, if not corrected, the lack of glutathione in turn accelerates the aging process.
Supplemental glutathione is expensive, and the effectiveness of oral formulas is questionable. To raise glutathione levels, it is better to supply the body with the raw materials it uses to make this compound: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. The N-acetyl form of cysteine, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), is considered particularly effective for this purpose.
Glycine retards muscle degeneration by supplying additional creatine, a compound that is present in muscle tissue and is utilized in the construction of DNA and RNA. It improves glycogen storage, thus freeing up glucose for energy needs. It is essential for the synthesis of nucleic acids, bile acids and other nonessential amino acids in the body.
Glycine is used in many gastric antacid agents. Because high concentrations of glycine are found in the skin and connective tissues, it is useful for repairing damaged tissues and promoting healing.
Glycine is necessary for central nervous system function and a healthy prostate. It functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and as such can help prevent epileptic seizures. It has been used in the treatment of manic (bipolar) depression, and can also be effective for hyperactivity.
Having too much of this amino acid in the body can cause fatigue, but having the proper amount produces more energy. If necessary, glycine can be converted into the amino acid serine
in the body.
Histidine is an essential amino acid that is significant in the growth and repair of tissues. It is important for the maintenance of the myeline sheaths, which protect nerve cells, and is needed for the production of both red and white blood cells. Histidine also protects the body from radiation damage, helps lower blood pressure, aids in removing heavy metals from the system, and may help in the prevention of AIDS.
Histidine levels that are too high may lead to stress and even psychological disorders such as anxiety and schizophrenia, people with schizophrenia have been found to have high levels of histidine in their bodies. Inadequate levels of histidine may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and may be be
associated with nerve deafness. Methionine has the ability to lower histidine levels.
Histamine, an important immune system chemical, is derived from histidine. Histamine aids in sexual arousal.
Because the availability of histidine influences histamine production, taking supplemental histidine—together with vitamins B3 (niacin) and B6 (pyridoxine), which are required for the transformation from histidine to histamine—may help improve sexual functioning and pleasure.
Because histamine also stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, histidine may be helpful for people with indigestion resulting from a lack of stomach acid.
Persons with manic (bipolar) depression should not take supplemental histidine unless a deficiency has been identified. Natural sources of histidine include rice, wheat, and rye.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body in the course of methionine metabolism. This amino acid has been the focus of increasing attention in recent years, because high levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Further, it is known that homocysteine has a toxic effect on cells lining the arteries, makes the blood more prone to clotting, and promotes the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol”), which makes it more likely that cholesterol will be deposited as plaque in the blood vessels.
Like other amino acids, homocysteine does perform a necessary function in the body. It is then usually broken down quickly into the amino acid cysteirte and other important compounds, including adenosine triphosphate (ATP, an important source of cellular energy) and Sadeno-sylmethionine (SAMe). However, a genetic defect or, more commonly, deficiencies of vitamins B6 and B12 and folate (folic acid) can prevent homocysteine from converting rapidly enough. Asa result, high levels of the amino acid accumulate in the body, damaging cell membranes and blood vessels, and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly atherosclerosis. Vitamins B6 and B12 and folate work together to facilitate the breakdown of homocysteirte, and thus help protect against heart disease.
Isoleucine, one of the essential amino acids, is needed for hemoglobin formation and also stabilizes and regulates blood sugar and energy levels. It is metabolized in muscle tissue. It is one of the three branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids are valuable for athletes because they enhance energy, increase endurance, and aid in the healing and repair of muscle tissue.
Isoleucine has been found to be deficient in people suffering from many different mental and physical disorders. A deficiency of isoleucirte can lead to symptoms similar to those of hypoglycemia.
Food sources of isoleucine include almonds, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish, lentils, liver, meat, rye, most seeds, and soy protein. It is also available in supplemental form. Supplemental L-isoleucirte should always be taken with a correct balance of the other two branched-chain amino acids, L-leucine and L-valine—approximately 2 mil-ligrams of leucine for each milligram of valine and isoleucine. Combination supplements that provide all three of the branched-chain amino acids are available and may be more convenient to use.
Leucine is an essential amino acid and one of the branched-chain amino acids (the others are isoleucine and valine). These work together to protect muscle and act as fuel. Leucine plus other dietary proteins fosters muscle growth even without the other two branched-chain amino acids. They promote the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue, and are recommended for those recovering-from surgery. Leucine also lowers elevated blood sugar levels and aids in increasing growth hormone production.
Natural sources of leueine include brown rice, beans,meat, nuts, soy flour, and whole wheat. Supplemental L-leucine must be taken in balance with L-isoleucine and L-valine (see Isoleucine in this section), and it should be taken in moderation, or symptoms of hypoglycemia may result. An excessively high intake of leucine may also contribute to pellagra, and may increase the amount of ammonia present in the body.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that is a necessary building block for all protein. It is needed for proper growth and bone development in children; it helps calcium absorption and maintains a proper nitrogen balance in adults. This amino acid aids in the production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes, and helps in collagen formation and tissue repair. Because it helps to build muscle protein, it is good for those recovering from surgery and sports injuries. It also lowers high serum triglyceride levels.
Another very useful ability of this amino acid is its capacity for fighting cold sores and herpesviruses. Taking supplemental L-lysine, together with vitamin C with bioflavonoids, can effectively fight and/or prevent herpes outbreaks, especially if foods containing the amino acid arginine are avoided (see HERPESVIRUS INFECTION in Part Two). Supplemental L-lysine also may decrease acute alco-hol intoxication.
Lysine is an essential amino acid, and so cannot be manufactured in the body. It is therefore vital that adequate amounts be included in the diet. Deficiencies can result in anemia, bloodshot eyes, enzyme disorders, hair loss, an inability to concentrate, irritability, lack of energy, poor appetite, reproductive disorders, retarded growth, and weight loss. Food sources of lysine include cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, and yeast.
Methionine is an essential amino acid that assists in the breakdown of fats, thus helping to prevent a buildup of fat in the liver and arteries that might obstruct blood flow to the brain, heart, and kidneys. The synthesis of the amino acids cysteine and taurine may depend on the availability of methionine. This amino acid helps the digestive system; helps to detoxify harmful agents such as lead and other heavy metals; helps diminish muscle weakness, prevent brittle hair, and protect against radiation; and is beneficial for people with osteoporosis or chemical allergies. It is useful also in the treatment of rheumatic fever and toxemia of pregnancy.
Methionine is a powerful antioxidant. It is a good source of sulfur, which inactivates free radicals and helps to prevent skin and nail problems. It is also good for people with Gilbert’s syndrome, an anomaly of liver function, and is required for the synthesis of nucleic acids, collagen, and proteins found in every cell of the body. It is beneficial women who take oral contraceptives because it promotes the excretion of estrogen. It reduces the level of histamire in the body, which can be useful for people with sc phrenia, whose histamine levels are typically higher normal.
As levels of toxic substances in the body increase, need for methionine increases. The body can convert thionine into the amino acid cysteine, a precursor of glu thione. Methionine thus protects glutathione; it helps prevent glutathione depletion if the body is overloa with toxins. Since glutathione is a key neutralizer of to in the liver, this protects the liver from the damaging fects of toxic compounds.
An essential amino acid, methionine is not synthes. in the body and so must be obtained from food sources from dietary supplements. Good food sources of methio ine include beans, eggs, fish, garlic, lentils, meat, onio soybeans, seeds, and yogurt. Because the body uses me onine to derive a brain food called choline, it is wise supplement the diet with choline or lecithin (which is hi in choline) to ensure that the supply of methionine is depleted.
Ornithine helps to prompt the release of growth hormone, which promotes the metabolism of excess body fat. This effect is enhanced if ornithine is combined with arginine and carnitine. Ornithine is necessary for proper immune-system and liver function. This amino acid also detoxifies ammonia and aids in liver regeneration. High concentrations of ornithine are found in the skin and connective tis-sue, making it useful for promoting healing and repairing damaged tissues.
Ornithine is synthesized in the body from arginine, and in turn serves as the precursor of citrulline, proline, and glutamic acid. Children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or anyone with a history of schizophrenia should not take supplemental L-ornithine, unless they are specifically directed to do so by a physician.
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. Because it can cross the blood-brain barrier, it can have a direct effect on brain chemistry. Once in the body, phenylalanine can be converted into another amino acid, tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize two key neurotransmitters that promote alertness: dopamine and norepinephrine. Because of its relationship to the action of the central nervous system, this amino acid can elevate mood, decrease pain, aid in memory and learning, and suppress the appetite. It can be used to treat arthritis, depression, menstrual cramps, migraines, obesity, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.
Phenylalanine is available in three different forms, designated L-, D-, and DL-. The L- form is the most common type and is the form in which phenylalanine is incorporated into the body’s proteins. The D- form acts as a painkiller. The DL- form is a combination of the D- and the L-. Like the D- form, it is effective for controlling pain, especially the pain of arthritis; like the L- form, it functions as a building block for proteins, increases mental alertness, suppresses the appetite, and helps people with Parkinson’s disease. It has been used to alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and various types of chronic pain.
Supplemental phenylalanine, as well as products containing aspartame (an artificial sweetener made from phenylalanine and another amino acid, aspartic acid), should not be taken by pregnant women or by people who suffer anxiety attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, phenylketonuria (PKU), or preexisting pigmented melanoma, of skin cancer.
Proline improves skin texture by aiding in the production of collagen and reducing the loss of collagen through the aging process. It is needed to repair tissue after a major sunburn or severe burn. It also helps in the healing of cartilage and the strengthening of joints, tendons, and heart muscle. It works with vitamin C to promote healthy connective tissue.
Proline is obtained primarily from meat sources, dairy products, and eggs.
Serine is needed for the proper metabolism of fats and fatty the growth of muscle, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. It is a component of brain proteins and the protective myelin sheaths that cover nerve fibers. It is important in RNA and DNA function, cell membrane formation, and creatine synthesis. It also aids in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies. However, too high serine levels in the body may have adverse effects on the immune system.
Serine can be made from glycine in the body, but this process requires the presence of sufficient amounts of vitamins B3 and B6 and folic acid. Food sources of serine include meat and soy foods, as well as many foods that often cause allergic reactions, such as dairy products, wheat gluten and peanuts. It is included as a natural moisturizing agent in many cosmetics and skin-care preparations.
High concentrations of taurine are found in the heart muscle, white blood cells, skeletal muscle, and central nervous system. It is a building block of all the other amino acids as well as a key component of bile, which is needed for the digestion of fats, the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and the control of serum cholesterol levels. Taurine can be useful for people with atherosclerosis, edema, heart disorders, hypertension, or hypoglycemia. It is vital for the proper utilization of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and it has been shown to play a particular role in sparing the loss of potassium from the heart muscle. This helps to prevent the development of potentially dangerous cardiac arrhythmias.
Taurine has a protective effect on the brain, particularly if the brain is dehydrated. It is used to treat anxiety, epilepsy, hyperactivity, poor brain function, and seizures.
Taurine is found in concentrations up to four times greater in the brains of children than in those of adults. It may be that a deficiency of taurine in the developing brain is involved in seizures. Zinc deficiency also is commonly found in people with epilepsy, and this may play a part in the deficiency of taurine. Taurine is also associated with zinc in maintaining eye function; a deficiency of both may impair vision. Taurine supplementation may benefit children with Down syndrome and muscular dystrophy. This amino acid is also used in some clinics for breast cancer treatment.
Excessive losses of taurine through the urine can be caused by many metabolic disorders. Cardiac arrhythmias, disorders of platelet formation, intestinal problems, an overgrowth of candida, physical or emotional stress, a zinc deficiency, and excessive consumption of alcohol are all associated with high urinary losses of taurine. Excessive alcohol consumption also causes the body to lose its ability to utilize taurine properly. Taurine supplementation may reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Diabetes increases the body’s requirements for taurine; conversely, supplementation with taurine and cystine may decrease the need for insulin.
Taurine is found in eggs, fish, meat, and milk, but not in vegetable proteins. It can be synthesized from cysteine in the liver and from methionine elsewhere in the body, as long as sufficient quantities of vitamin B6 are present. For vegetarians, synthesis by the body is crucial. For individuals with genetic or metabolic disorders that prevent the synthesis of taurine, taurine supplementation is required.
Threonine is an essential amino acid that helps to maintain the proper protein balance in the body. It is important for the formation of collagen, elastin, and tooth enamel, and aids liver and lipotropic function when combined with aspartic acid and methionine. A precursor of the amino acids glycine and serine, threonine is present in the heart, central nervous system, and skeletal muscle, and helps to prevent fatty buildup in the liver. It enhances the immune system by aiding in the production of antibodies, and may be helpful in treating some types of depression.Because the threonine content of grains is low, vegetarians are more likely than others to have deficihocies.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is necessary for the production of vitamin B3 (niacin). It is used by the brain to produce serotonin, a necessary neurotransmitter that transfers nerve impulses from one cell to another and is responsible for normal sleep. Consequently, tryptophan helps to combat depression and insomnia and to stabilize moods. But it is most commonly used to treat sleep problems.
Tryptophan helps to control hyperactivity in children, alleviates stress, is good for the heart, aids in weight control by reducing appetite, and enhances the release of growth hormone. It is good for migraine headaches and may reduce some of the effects of nicotine. Sufficient amounts of vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and C, folate, and magnesium are necessary for the formation of tryptophan, which, in turn, is required for the formation of serotonin. A study reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that women with a history of bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder, experienced relapses after they took an amino acid mixture lacking tryptophan. Researchers believe that insufficient tryptophan altered brain serotonin levels and, consequently, the transmission of nerve impulses. A lack of tryptophan and magnesium may contribute to coronary artery spasms.
The best dietary sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, and soy protein. In November 1989, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported evidence linking L-tryptophan supplements to a blood disorder called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Several hundred cases of this illness—which is characterized by an elevated white blood cell count and can also cause such symptoms as fatigue, muscular pain, respiratory ailments, edema, and rash—were reported. After the CDC established an association between the blood disorder and products containing L-tryptophan in New Mexico, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first warned consumers to stop taking L-tryptophan supplements, then recalled all products in which L-tryptophan was the sole or a major component. According to the FDA, at least thirty-eight deaths could be attributed to the tryptophan supplements.
Subsequent research showed that it was contaminants in the supplements, not the tryptophan, that was probably responsible for the problem. In 2005, tryptophan supplements were sold again in the United States after the FDA carefully reviewed the new source of tryptophan and deemed it acceptable.
Tyrosine is important to overall metabolism. It is a precursor of adrenaline and the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which regulate mood and stimulate metabolism and the nervous system. Tyrosine acts as a mood elevator; a lack of adequate amounts of tyrosine leads to a deficiency of norepinephrine in the brain, which in turn can result in depression. It also acts as a mild antioxidant, suppresses the appetite, and helps to reduce body fat. It aids in the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin and hair color) and in the functions of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands. It is also involved in the metabolism of the amino acid phenylalanine.
Tyrosine attaches to iodine atoms to form active thyroid hormones. Not surprisingly, low plasma levels of tyrosine have been associated with hypothyroidism. Symptoms of tyrosine deficiency can also include low blood pressure, low body temperature (such as cold hands and feet), and restless leg syndrome.
Supplemental L-tyrosine has been used for stress reduction, and research suggests it may be helpful against chronic fatigue and narcolepsy. It has been used to help individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, low sex drive, allergies, and headaches, as well as persons undergoing withdrawal from drugs. It may also help people with Parkinson’s disease.
Natural sources of tyrosine include almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Tyrosine can also be produced from phenylalanine in the body. Supplements of L-tyrosine should be taken at bedtime or with a high-carbohydrate meal so that it does not have to compete for absorption with other amino acids.
Persons taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, commonly prescribed for depression, must strictly limit their intake of foods containing tyrosine and should not take any supplements containing L-tyrosine, as it may lead to a sudden and dangerous rise in blood pressure. Anyone who takes prescription medication for depression should discuss necessary dietary restrictions with his or her physician.
Valine, an essential amino acid, has a stimulant effect. It is needed for muscle metabolism, tissue repair, and the maintenance of a proper nitrogen balance in the body. Valine is found in high concentrations in muscle tissue. It is one of the branched-chain amino acids, which means that it can be used as an energy source by muscle tissue. It may be helpful in treating liver and gallbladder disease, and it is good for correcting the type of severe amino acid deficiencies that can be caused by drug addiction. An excessively high level of valine may lead to such symptoms as a crawling sensation in the skin and even hallucinations.
Dietary sources of valine include dairy products, grains meat, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy protein. Supplementa_ L-valine should always be taken in balance with the other branched-chain amino acids, L-isoleucine and L-leucine (see Isoleucine in this section).
Introduction to Antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural compounds that help protect the body from harmful free radicals. These are atoms or groups of atoms that can cause damage to cells, impairing the immune system and leading to infections and various degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Anti-oxidants therefore play a beneficial role in the prevention a disease. Free radical damage is thought by scientists to the basis for the aging process as well.
There are a number of known free radicals that occur in lie body, the most common of which are oxygen-derived free radicals, such as superoxide radicals and hydroxyl radicals, hypochlorite radicals, hydrogen peroxide, various lipid peroxides, and nitric oxide. They may be formed by exposure to radiation, including exposure to the sun’s rays; exposure to toxic chemicals such as those found in cigarette smoke, polluted air, and industrial and household chemicals; and various metabolic processes, such as the process of breaking down stored fat molecules for use as an
Free radicals are normally kept in check by the action free radical of scavangers that occur naturally in the body. These scavengers neutralize the free radicals. Certain enzymes serve this vital function. Four important enzymes that neutralize free radicals are superoxide dismutase (SOD), methionine, reductase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase.The body makes these as a matter of course. There are also a number of phytochemicals and nutrients that act as antioxidants, including vitamin A, beta-carotene and other carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins C and E, and the mineral selenium. Researchers have recently found that eggplant contains high levels of chlorogenic acid, which has proven to be a highly effective antioxidant. Another antioxidant is the hormone melatonin, which is a powerful free radical neutralizer. Certain herbs have antioxidant properties as well.
Although many antioxidants can be obtained from food sources such as sprouted grains and fresh fruits and vegetables it is difficult to get enough of them from these sources to hold back the free radicals constantly being generated in our polluted environment. We can minimize free radical damage by taking supplements of key nutrients. A high intake of antioxidant nutrients appears to be especially protective against cancer.
Antioxidants work synergistically in giving protection against free radical damage, so it is better to take smaller doses of several different antioxidants than a large amount of only one. For example, while beta-carotene by itself is an excellent antioxidant, a mix of natural carotenoids provides more health benefits than beta-carotene alone. There are many good combination formulas available that make it easy to take multiple antioxidants every day. Similarly, taking antioxidants together, for example beta-carotene with vitamin E and vitamin C, appears to be more effective than taking any one alone.
A free radical is an atom or group of atoms that contains at least one unpaired electron. Electrons are negatively charged particles that usually occur in pairs, forming a chemically stable arrangement. If an electron is unpaired, another atom or molecule can easily bond with it, causing a chemical reaction. Because they join so readily with other compounds, free radicals can effect dramatic changes in the body, and they can cause a lot of oxidative damage. Each free radical may exist for only a tiny fraction of a second, but the damage it leaves behind can be irreversible, particularly damage to heart muscle cells, nerve cells, and certain immune system sensor cells.
Free radicals are normally present in the body in small numbers. Oxygen-charged particles are created in the body as we breathe. Diets rich in antioxidants can more than neutralize these particles. Dietary supplements rich in antioxidants act in the same way. Biochemical processes naturally lead to the formation of free radicals, and under normal circumstances the body can keep them in check. Indeed not all free radicals are bad. Free radicals produced by the immune system destroy viruses and bacteria. Other radicals are involved in producing vital hormones and activating enzymes that are needed for life. We need free radicals to produce energy and various substances that the body requires. If there is excessive free radical formation, however, damage to cells and tissues can occur. The formation of a large number of free radicals stimulates the formation of more free radicals, leading to even more damage.
Many different factors can lead to an excess of free radicals. Exposure to radiation, whether from the sun or small amounts from medical x-rays, activates the formation of free radicals, as does exposure to environmental pollutants such as tobacco smoke and automobile exhaust. Diet also can contribute to the formation of free radicals. When the body obtains nutrients through the diet, it utilizes oxygen and these nutrients to create energy. In this oxidation process, oxygen molecules containing unpaired electrons are released. These oxygen free radicals can cause damage to the body if produced in extremely large amounts. Being overweight or consuming a diet that is high in fat can increase free radical activity because oxidation occurs more readily in fat molecules than it does in carbohydrate or protein molecules. Cooking fats at high temperatures, particularly frying foods in oil, can produce large numbers of free radicals.
The presence of a dangerous number of free radicals can alter the way in which the cells code genetic material. Changes in protein structure can occur as a result of errors in protein synthesis. The body’s immune system may then see this altered protein as a foreign substance and try to destroy it. The formation of mutated proteins can eventually damage the immune system and lead to leukemia and other types of cancer, as well as to many other diseases.
The presence of a dangerous number of free radicals can alter the way in which the cells code genetic material. Changes in protein structure can occur as a result of errors in protein synthesis. The body’s immune system may then see this altered protein as a foreign substance and try to destroy it. The formation of mutated proteins can eventually damage the immune system and lead to leukemia and other types of cancer, as well as to many other diseases
In addition to damaging genetic material, free radicals can destroy the protective cell membranes. Calcium levels in the body may be upset as well. Over time, the body produces more free radicals than it does scavengers. The resulting imbalance contributes to the aging process
Substances known as antioxidants neutralize free radicals by binding to their free electrons. Antioxidants available in supplement form include the enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase; vitamin A, beta carotene, and vitamins C and E; the minerals selenium and zinc; and the hormone melatonin. By destroying free radicals, antioxidants help to detoxify and protect the body.
Alpha – Lipoic Acid
Alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant—both on its own and as a “recycler” of vitamin E and vitamin C. It can restore the antioxidant properties of these vitamins after they have neutralized free radicals. ALA also stimulates the body’s production of glutathione and aids in the absorption of coenzyme Q10, both important antioxidants. Because ALA is soluble in both water and fat, it can move into all parts of cells to deactivate free radicals.
Supplemental ALA has been used for almost three decades in Europe to treat peripheral nerve degeneration and to help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It also helps to detoxify the liver of metal pollutants, block cataract formation, protect nerve tissues against oxidative stress, and reduce blood cholesterol levels. It can be used with carnitine to provide an antiaging effect. ALA is known also as a metabolic antioxidant, because without it, cells cannot use sugar to produce energy The body does not produce large amounts of ALA, but because it is found naturally in only a few foods, including spinach, broccoli, potatoes, brewer’s yeast, and organ meats, supplementation may be necessary.
The herb bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), a European relative of the American blueberry, contains natural antioxidants that keep capillary walls strong and fiedble. They also help to maintain the flexibility of the walls of red blood cells and allow them to pass through the capillaries more freely. Everyone knows that vitamins C and E are good sources of antioxidants, but bilberry, which contains anthocyanidins phytochemicals, also acts as an antioxidant. It also helps to lower blood pressure, inhibit clot formation, and enhance blood supply to the nervous system. Studies indicate that anthocyanidins can provide up to fifty times the antioxidant protection of vitamin E and ten times the protection of vitamin C. In addition, this herb protects the eyes and may enhance vision; supports and strengthens collagen structures; inhibits the growth of bacteria; acts as an anti-inflammatory; and has antiaging and anticarcinogenic effects. One study that looked at the effects of bilberry on night vision found that vision was not improved with the amounts that are typically sold. Tests have shown that the compound glucoquinine, found in bilberry leaves, helps to lower blood sugar levels.
The herb burdock (Arctium lappa) was tested by researchers at the Chia Nan College of Pharmacy and Science in Taiwan for its antioxidant properties. They found that burdock is a powerful antioxidant, capable of scavenging hydrogen peroxide and superoxide radicals. It also showed a marked scavenging effect against hydroxyl radicals. The study showed also that burdock and vitamin E quench more free radicals when used in combination. Burdock also might protect against cancer by helping to control cell mutation.
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that is structurally similar to vitamin E. It plays a crucial role in the generation of cellular energy, is a significant immunologic stimulant, increases circulation, has antiaging effects, and is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Also known as ubiquinone (from quinone, a type of coenzyme, and ubiquitous, because it exists everywhere in the body), coenzyme Q10 is found in highest concentrations in the heart, followed by the liver, kidney, spleen, and pancreas. Within the mitochondria, the cells energy-production centers, coenzyme Q10 helps to metabolize fats and carbohydrates. It also helps to maintain the flexibility of cell membranes.
Various research reports suggest that coenzyme Q10 also may be beneficial in treating cancer, AIDS, muscular dystrophy, allergies, gastric ulcers, myopathy, Parkinson’s disease, and deafness.Natural sources of coenzyme Q10 include meats, peanuts, sardines, and spinach.
Found in the spice turmeric, the phytochemical curcumin has antioxidant properties that prevent the formation of and neutralize existing free radicals. It stops precancerous changes within DNA and interferes with enzymes necessary for cancer progression. Curcumin stops the oxidation of cholesterol, thus protecting against the formation of plaque in the arteries. In a study of chronic smokers, those who took curcumin excreted a substantially lower level of mutagens (substances that induce cells to mutate) in their urine, a reflection of how well the body is dealing with these cancer-causing substances. Curcumin has been shown to be of benefit to some patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. It may also calm an overactive immune system in patients with ulcerative colitis, reducing inflammation, redness, and soreness. In one study, curcumin helped keep patients with ulcerative colitis from experiencing intestinal flare-ups. But it does not seem to be effective for other inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis. Curcumin also blocks toxic compounds from reaching or reacting with body tissues, and may prevent cataracts.
Flavonoids are especially potent antioxidants and metal chelators. They are the largest category of plant compounds called polyphenols. They are chemical compounds that plants produce to protect themselves from parasites, bacteria, and cell injury. More than 4,000 chemically unique flavonoids are known; they occur in fruits, vegetables, spices, seeds, nuts, flowers, and bark. Wine (particularly red wine), apples, blueberries, bilberries, onions, soy products, and tea are some of the best food sources of flavonoids. Certain flavonoids in fruits and vegetables have much greater antioxidant activity than vitamins C and E or beta-carotene. In fact, flavonoids protect the antioxidant vitamins from oxidative damage.
Numerous medicinal herbs contain therapeutic amounts of flavonoids; they often are a major component of an herb’s medicinal activity, which include helping prevent heart disease and cancer, and reducing the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases.
Natural sources of the flavonoids include almonds, apples, broccoli, citrus fruits, tea, tomatoes, onions, soybeans, and red wine. In the United States, the greatest intake of flavonoids comes from citrus fruits, tea, and wine.
This versatile healing herb also has antioxidant properties The sulthydryl (sulfur and hydrogen) compounds in garlic are potent chelators of toxic heavy metals, binding with them so that they can be excreted. These same compounds are effective protectants against oxidation and free radicals.
Garlic aids in the detoxification of peroxides such as hydrogen peroxide and helps to prevent fats from being oxidized and deposited in tissues and arteries. Garlic also am antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A and C and selenium.
Studies on aged garlic extract (AGE) have shown that the aging process substantially boosts garlic’s antioxidant potential. AGE protects against DNA damage, keeps blood vessel’s healthy, and guards against radiation and sunlight damage. According to researcher and nutritionist Robert I- SAN LIN, Ph.D., aged garlic extract can prevent liver damage caused by carbon tetrachloride, a common indoor pollutant and free radical generator. Overall, aged garlic supplements provide a greater concentration of garlic’s beneficial compounds. It is particularly helpful to reduce oxidation associated with aging. If you’re worried about garlic breath putting a strain on your social life, choose odorless and tasteless form such as Kyolic aged garlic extract from Wakunaga of America. Aged garlic extract reduces blood cholesterol levels, thus lowering the risk of heart attack provides protection from heart disease by preventing clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes; and helps lower high blood pressure. Timed released garlic has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and to lower fasting blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Ginkgo biloba is an herb with powerful antioxidant effects in the brain, retina, and cardiovascular system. It is well known for its ability to enhance circulation, and a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that it has a measurable effect on dementia in people with Alzheimer’s disease and people recovering from strokes. Other studies indicate that it can improve both long- and short-term memory and enhance concentration.
Ginkgo biloba has also been used to treat hearing problems, impotence, and macular degeneration.Anyone who takes prescription anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication or who uses over-the-counter pain killers regularly should consult a health care provider before using ginkgo biloba, as the combination may result in internal bleeding.
Glutathione is a protein that is produced in the liver from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. It is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits the formation of, and protects against cellular damage from, free radicals. It helps to defend the body against damage from cigarette smoking, exposure to radiation, cancer chemotherapy, and toxins such as alcohol. As a detoxifier of heavy metals and drugs, it aids in the treatment of blood and liver disorders.
Glutathione protects cells in several ways. It neutralizes oxygen molecules before they can harm cells. Together with selenium, it forms the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which neutralizes hydrogen peroxide. It is also a component of another antioxidant enzyme, glutathione-S-transferase, which is a broad-spectrum liver-detoxifying enzyme.
Glutathione protects not only individual cells but also the tissues of the arteries, brain, heart, immune cells, kidneys, lenses of the eyes, liver, lungs, and skin against oxidant damage. It plays a role in preventing cancer, especially liver cancer, and may actually target carcinogens, make them water-soluble, and then help escort them from the body. It may also have an antiaging effect. The rate at which we age is directly correlated with reduced concentrations of glutathione in cellular fluids; as we grow older, glutathione levels drop, resulting in a decreased ability to deactivate free radicals.
Glutathione can be taken in supplement form. The production of glutathione by the body can be boosted by taking supplemental dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone; N-acetylcysteine or L-cysteine; and L-methionine. Studies suggest that this may be a better way of raising glutathione levels than taking glutathione itself, but check with your health care professional if you have any hormonal problems.
Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage around the world after water. Green tea contains compounds known as polyphenols, including phytochemicals that have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and health enhancing properties. Tests on epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a particular type of polyphenol in green tea, have shown that it is able to penetrate the body’s cells and shield DNA from hydrogen peroxide, a potent free radical. Epidemiological studies have shown that green tea protects against cancer, lowers cholesterol levels, and reduces the clotting tendency of the blood. Because green tea boosts immune function and acts as an antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent, it may help prevent cancer. In one study, it was shown to prevent symptoms associated with colds and flu, and even reduced the number of these illnesses. It also shows promise as a weight-loss aid that can promote the burning of fat and help to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Instead of drinking green tea, a supplement containing known quantities of it can produce weight loss—especially as fat—and lower blood pressure and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
Green tea is simply the dried leaves of the tea plant. All green teas are from the species Camellia sinensis, but depending on the locale where they are grown and on the processing they can be quite different. Chinese teas are predominant, and comprise about 90 percent of what is sold. There are numerous regional Chinese teas, the best known being lung ching (dragon well).
Other teas from Japan are equally good. Japanese green teas are of two basic types, sencha or gyokuro. Sencha is grown in the full sun, while gyokuro is shaded a few weeks before it is harvested. While there are many brands, the basic difference is that gyokuro makes a sweeter, darker green tea than sencha, which is somewhat grassy in flavor. It also costs over twice as much. Gyokuro is the source of the special handmade powdered tea used in the traditional tea ceremony.
Green tea is not fermented and has more polyphenols than black tea. Black tea undergoes natural fermentation, which converts tannins, astringent phytochemicals, into more complex compounds. This fermentation process destroys some of black tea’s polyphenols, and it was once thought that it was thus rendered less effective as an antioxidant. Tests have shown, however, that both green and black teas contain about the same amount of antioxidant polyphenols, but that there are different combinations of antioxidants between black and green teas depending on the method of processing. Black tea lowers blood sugar and raises insulin levels after a meal. The polyphenolic content of black tea is thought to stimulate the pancreas to release insulin.
Green tea does contain caffeine (15 to 25 milligrams per 3/4 cup), but it is less than in similar amounts of coffee (80 to 115 milligrams per 3/4 cup) or caffeinated carbonated beverages (38 to 46 milligrams per can). Those who have heart problems or sensitivity to caffeine, or are pregnant may want to limit their intake of caffeine. Green tea contains vitamin K, which can make anticoagulant medication less effective. Consult your health provider if you are using them.
A unique amino acid, methionine neutralizes hydroxyl radicals, one of the most dangerous types of free radicals. Most often a by-product of reactions between heavy metals and less toxic free radicals, hydroxyl radicals can be formed also during strenuous exercise or exposure to high levels of radiation, and can damage any type of body tissue
The sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine is needed to produce the free radical fighter glutathione and to help maintain it at adequate levels in the cells. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a more stable form of cysteine that can be taken in supplement form.
NAC is used by the liver and the lymphocytes to detoxify chemicals and other poisons. It is a powerful detoxifier alcohol, tobacco smoke, and environmental pollutants,all of which are immune suppressors.Taking supplemental NAC can boost the levels of protective enzymes in the body, thus slowing some of the cellular damage that is characteristic of aging. NAC supplementation may also decrease both the frequency and duration of infectious diseases. It has been used in the management of AIDS and chronic bronchitis.
People with diabetes should not take supplemental NAC without first consulting a health care provider, as it interfere with the effectiveness of insulin.
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NADH)
Also known as coenzyme 1, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide with high-energy hydrogen, or NADH, is the “spark” that ignites energy production in the body’s cells.
NADH’s high antioxidant capacity derives from its abillity to reduce levels of substances. NADH plays a central role in DNA repair and maintenance, and in the cellular immune defense system. Studies report that NADH also can inhibit the auto-oxidation of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes the release of toxic chemicals that may damage sensitive parts of the brain.
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are naturally occurring substances present in a variety of food and botanical sources. They are unique phytochemicals known as flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant capabilities. OPCs are highly water soluble, so the body is able to absorb them rapidly . Clinical tests suggest that OPCs may be as much as fifty times more potent than vitamin E and twenty times more potent than vitamin C in terms of bioavailable antioxidant activity. What’s more, OPCs work with the antioxidant glutathione to recycle and restore oxidized vitamin C, thus increasing the vitamin’s effectiveness. Because they are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, OPCs can protect the brain and spinal nerves against free radical damage. In addition to their antioxidant activity, OPCs protect the liver from damage caused by toxic doses of acetaminophen, a nonprescription pain reliever; they strengthen and repair connective tissue, including that of the cardiovascular system; and they support the immune system and slow aging. They also moderate allergic and inflammatory responses by reducing histamine production.
OPCs are found throughout plant life; however, the two main sources are pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), produced from a French coastal pine tree, and grape seed extract, made from the seeds of the wine grape (Vitis vinifera). Pycnogenol was the first source of OPCs discovered, and the process for extracting it was patented in the 1950s. Pycnogenol is a trademarked name for pine bark extract,not a generic term for OPCs from other sources.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that functions as an antioxidant in partnership with vitamin E to protect tissues and cell membranes. Among other things, it increases antioxidant enzyme levels in cells. Selenium is also an integral component of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (each molecule of this enzyme contains four atoms of selenium). Glutathione peroxidase targets harmful hydrogen peroxide in the body and converts it into water. It is a particularly important guardian of blood cells and of the. heart, liver, and lungs.
Numerous plants contain selenium, including garlic, asparagus, and grains, but the levels depend on soil content, which varies from one geographic region to another.
Use caution when taking supplemental selenium. A maximum safe dose is 400 micrograms (mcg) daily. Amounts higher than 1,000 micrograms (1 milligram) daily may be toxic.
The best natural sources of selenium include Brazil nuts (over 500 micrograms per ounce!), brown rice, seafood, eggs, tuna,and buckwheat.
Extracted from the seeds of the herb milk thistle, silymarin has been used for centuries to treat liver disease. The active ingredients in milk thistle are several types of flavonoids (powerful antioxidants), known collectively as silymarin.
Silymarin guards the liver from oxidative damage. It also protects the liver from toxins, drugs, and the effects of alcohol, and promotes the growth of new liver cells. In addition, silymarin increases levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase, potent antioxidant enzymes that protect the liver. It also has been shown to reduce insulin resistance, which may help patients with diabetes. In one study, patients with diabetes who received silymarin experienced blood glucose control and better blood tests related to liver function.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme. SOD revitalizes cells and reduces the rate of cell destruction. It neutralizes the most common, and possibly the most dangerous, free radicals— superoxide radicals. Superoxide radicals instigate the breakdown of synovial fluid, the lubricant for the body’s joints. This leads to friction and, ultimately, inflammation.
SOD works synergistically with the enzyme catalase, which is abundant throughout the body. Catalase removes hydrogen peroxide by-products created by SOD reactions.
SOD also aids in the body’s utilization of zinc, copper, and manganese. Its levels tend to decline with age, while free radical production increases. Its potential as an anti-aging treatment is currently being explored.
Chemically speaking, there are two forms of this enzyme. The copper /zinc form (known as Cu/Zn SOD) exerts its antioxidant properties in the cytoplasm of cells. This is the watery fluid that surrounds all the other cellular components. Metabolic activity that takes place in the cytoplasm results in the production of free radicals, and Cu/Zn neutralizes them. The manganese form (Mn SOD) is active in the mitochondria, structures within cells where energy is produced. The production of cellular energy also leads to the creation of free radicals.
SOD occurs naturally in barley grass, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheatgrass, and most green plants. It is also available in supplement form. SOD supplements in pill form must be enteric coated that is, coated with a protective substance that allows the pill to pass intact through the stomach acid into the small intestines to be absorbed. Cell Guard from Biotec Food Corporation and KAL SOD-3 from Nutraceutical International Corporation are good sources of SOD.
Vitamin A & the Cartenoids
A class of phytochemicals, carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments found in yellow, red, green, and orange vegetables and fruits. They are a potent family of antioxidants that include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Of the more than five hundred carotenoids found in nature, about fifty can be converted into vitamin A in the body.
Carotenoids quench singlet oxygen, which is not, chemically speaking, a free radical, but is nevertheless highly reactive and can damage body molecules. Carotenoids also act as anticancer agents, decrease the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and inhibit heart disease.
Studies have shown that carotenoids found in tomato juice (lycopene), carrots (alpha-and beta-carotene), and spinach (lutein) may help to protect against cancer by reducing oxidative and other damage to DNA. Together, the antioxidants alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q,vitamin C,and vitamin E help conserve carotenoids in tissues. Another carotenoid, astaxanthin, when taken as a supplement, was shown to be well-absorbed and tended to reduce damage to fat particles floating in the blood. This means that astaxanthin may be a beneficial supplement to reduce the risk of heart disease.
The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A as needed. Any leftover beta-carotene then acts as an antioxidant, breaking free radical chain reactions and preventing the oxidation of cholesterol. It reduces the oxidation of DNA and disables reactive oxygen species molecules generated by exposure to sunlight and air pollution, preventing damage to eyes, lungs, and skin.
A recent laboratory study found that taking very high doses of supplemental beta-carotene alone (50,000 international units or more daily) may interfere with the normal control of cell division. It is best to take a carotenoid complex containing a variety of carotenoids.
Natural sources of vitamin A include liver, whole milk. whole eggs, cheddar cheese, and beta-carotene foods. Natural sources of the carotenoids in general include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, corn, sweet peppers, spirulina, and kale.
Vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant that also recharges other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to keep them potent. Its water solubility makes it an efficient free radical scavenger in body fluids. Some studies have shown that vitamin C is the first line of antioxidant defense in plasma against many different kinds of free radicals. The cells of the brain and spinal cord, which frequently incur free radical damage, can be protected by significant amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin also guards against atherosclerosis by preventing damage to artery walls. Vitamin C acts as a more potent free radical scavenger in the presence of the phytochemical hesperidin.
Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, papaya, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and strawberries.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of lipids (fats). Fat oxidation has been implicated in the process that leads to atherosclerosis. Vitamin E is fat soluble and, since cell membranes are composed of lipids, it effectively prevents the cells protective coatings from becoming rancid as a result of the assault of free radicals.
Vitamin E also improves oxygen utilization, enhances immune response, plays a role in the prevention of cataracts caused by free radical damage, and may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
The natural form of vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) is superior to the synthetic version (dl-alpha-tocopherol).
New evidence suggests that zinc is needed to maintain normal blood concentrations of vitamin E. Selenium enhances vitamin E uptake. For information regarding dosage and safety of vitamin E supplements.Natural sources of vitamin E include nuts, soyabeans, spinach, sunflower seeds, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.
Zinc’s main antioxidant function is in the prevention of fat oxidation. In addition, it is a constituent of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Zinc is also needed for proper maintenance of vitamin E levels in the blood and aids in the absorption of vitamin A.
The Functions Of Enzymes
Enzymes assist in practically all bodily functions. Digestive enzymes break down food particles for energy. This chemical reaction is called hydrolysis, and it involves using water to break the chemical bonds to turn food into energy. The stored energy is later converted by other enzymes for use by the body as required. Iron is concentrated in the blood by the action of enzymes; other enzymes in the blood help the blood to coagulate in order to stop bleeding. Uricolytic enzymes catalyze the conversion of uric acid into urea. Respiratory enzymes aid in eliminating carbon dioxide from the lungs. Enzymes assist the kidneys, liver, lungs, colon, and skin in removing wastes and toxins from the body. Enzymes also utilize the nutrients ingested by the body to construct new muscle tissue, nerve cells, bone, skin, and glandular tissue. One enzyme can take dietary phosphorus and convert it into bone. Enzymes prompt the oxidation of glucose, which creates energy for the cells. Enzymes also protect the blood from dangerous waste materials by converting these substances to forms that are easily eliminated by the body. Indeed, the functions of enzymes are so many and so diverse that it would be impossible to name them all.
Enzymes are often divided into two groups: digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes. Digestive enzymes are secreted along the gastrointestinal tract and break down foods, enabling the nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream for use in various bodily functions. If you don’t make enough digestive enzymes, you will experience any or all of the following symptoms: bloating, gas, indigestion,diarrhea and pain. Of the macronutrients—carbohydrate, protein, and fat—people have the most trouble digesting fat, followed by protein and carbohydrate. Those who are lactose intolerant lack the enzymes needed to break down milk sugar. When choosing an enzyme supplement, make sure that it addresses your specific digestion needs. There are three main categories of digestive enzymes: amylase, protease, and lipase.
· Amylase, found in saliva and in the pancreatic and intestinal juices, breaks down carbohydrates. It begins to act as soon as you start chewing (this is why it is important to chew your food well). Different types of amylase break down specific types of sugars. For example, lactase breaks down lactose (milk sugar), maltase breaks down maltose (malt sugar), and sucrose breaks down sucrose (cane and beet sugar).
· Protease, found in the stomach juices and also in the pancreatic and intestinal juices, helps to digest protein.
· Lipase, found in the stomach and pancreatic juices, also present in fats in foods, aids in fat digestion.
Another component of the digestive process is hydrochloric acid. While not technically an enzyme itself, it interacts with digestive enzymes as they perform their functions.
Metabolic enzymes are enzymes that catalyze the various chemical reactions within the cells, such as energy production and detoxification. Metabolic enzymes govern the activities of all the body’s organs, tissues, and cells. They are the workers that build the body from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Metabolic enzymes are found doing their specific work in the blood, organs, and tissues. Each body tissue has its own specific set of metabolic enzymes.
Two particularly important metabolic enzymes are superoxide dismutase (SOD) and its partner, catalase. SOD is an antioxidant that protects the cells by attacking a common free radical, superoxide. Catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide, a metabolic waste product, and liberates oxygen for the body to use.The body uses most of its enzyme producing potential to produce about two dozen enzymes. These control the breakdown and utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to create the hundreds of metabolic enzymes necessary to maintain the rest of the tissues and organs in their functions.
While the body manufactures a supply of enzymes, it also can, and should, obtain enzymes from food. In fact, the body’s ability to manufacture enzymes is being seriously axed by our diet of processed and highly cooked food. Unfortunately, enzymes are extremely sensitive to heat. Low to moderate heat (118°F or above) destroys most enzymes in food. To obtain enzymes from the diet, some people find benefit from eating raw foods. Eating raw foods or, alternately, taking enzyme supplements, helps prevent depletion of the body’s own enzymes and thus reduces the stress an the body. Since enzymes are made from protein, it is essential to consume adequate amounts of protein in the diet.
Who should take enzyme supplements? Anyone who has a malabsorption problem, a yeast infection (candidiasis), or is over age sixty and whose digestive process seems to be stalling out, resulting in unpleasant symptoms. Ingredients should include pancreatin, lipase, amylase, and protease. This combination ensures digestion and absorption amino acids, fat-soluble nutrients, and carbohydrates. Bromelain, derived from pineapple stems, along with papain, derived from the papaya fruit, also are welcome. Specific problems can be addressed by the addition of specific enzymes. For instance, people who have trouble with dairy sugars should consider lactase; people who can’t digest legumes might try legumase. Hydrochloric acid supplements also might be necessary in the form of betaine hydrochloride taken as capsules at the start of each meal.
Enzymes can be found naturally in many different foods, from both plant and animal sources. Avocados, papayas, pineapples, bananas, and mangoes are all high in enzymes. Sprouts are the richest source. Unripe papaya and pineapple are excellent sources of enzymes. The enzymes extracted from papaya and pineapple—papain and bromelain, respectively are proteolytic enzymes, which break down proteins. Many fat-containing foods also supply lipase, which breaks down fats. In fact, fat in food exposed only to pancreatic lipase (the lipase produced by the body) in the intestines is not as well digested as fat that is first worked on in the stomach by food lipase. Pancreatic lipase digests fat in a highly alkaline environment (the intestines), whereas lipase found in food fats works in a more acidic environment (the stomach). The optimal extraction of nutrients from fats depends on the work of different fat-digesting enzymes in successive stages.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) comes in several different forms, including lysine HCl and betaine HCl. Betaine HCl is derived from sugar beets. When new, HCl capsules and tablets are almost white in color, but sometimes they can turn a deep purple color when they age. Supplemental HCl is not sold in powder or liquid form because contact with the teeth can damage tooth enamel. HCl has a sulfurlike odor.
Superoxide dismutase occurs naturally in a variety of food sources, including alfalfa, barley grass, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheatgrass, and most dark green plants. As powerful as they are, enzymes cannot act alone. They require adequate amounts of other substances, known as coenzymes, to be fully active. Among the most important coenzymes are the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
Commercially Available Enzymes
The majority of commercially available enzymes are digestive enzymes extracted from various sources. Enzymes are not manufactured synthetically. Most commercial enzyme products are made from animal enzymes, such as pancreatin and pepsin, which help in the digestion of food once it has reached the lower stomach and the intestinal tract. Some companies make their supplements from enzymes extracted from aspergillus, a type of fungus. Be sure to read labels. Those from animals are usually more concentrated than those grown from this fungus.
These enzymes begin their predigestive work in the upper stomach. All of these products are used primarily to aid the digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients, especially protein. If proteins are not completely digested, undigested protein particles may make their way into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall with other nutrients. This phenomenon is known as leaky gut syndrome, and it can result in allergic reactions that may be more or less severe, depending upon the strength of the immune system. This is one reason why the proper digestion of proteins is so important.
Any enzyme that acts on protein and prepares it for absorption is called a proteolytic enzyme. Proteolytic enzymes available in supplement form include pepsin, trypsin, rennin, pancreatin, chymotrypsin, bromelain, and papain. In addition to aiding digestion, proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be beneficial as anti-inflammatory agents. Pancreatin, derived from secretions of animal pancreas, is a focus of cancer research, because people with cancer are often deficient in this enzyme. Pancreatin is used in the treatment of digestive problems, viral infections, and sports injuries, as well as pancreatic insufficiency, food allergies, cystic fibrosis, autoimmune disorders, and other chronic illnesses.Also available in supplement form are the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.The following table lists some common enzymes and their substrates (the substance acted upon).
Proteins, adhesions, fibrin
Lactose (milk sugar)
Proteins, fats, carbohydrates
Proteins, fats, carbohydrates
If you decide to supplement, keep in mind that the way you respond to an enzyme may vary depending on the manufacturer. The good thing about digestive enzymes is that they work right away, so if you find you are not digesting a certain food—even after you have taken the enzyme try another brand. Enzyme supplements may not be for everyone. During pregnancy, it is a rule to be careful with supplements in general. Nursing mothers also should be careful about supplements, to avoid affecting their milk. People who have hemophilia or who take anticoagulants (blood-thinners) should consult their health care providers before taking large amounts of enzymes. Anyone contemplating surgery where there is a high risk of bleeding should ask his or her physician for advice before taking any supplement .
Natural Food Supplements
Natural Food Supplements
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a compound that serves as the immediate source of energy for the body’s cells, notably muscle cells. It increases energy and stamina, builds muscular density, increases muscular strength, buffers lactic-acid buildup (the reason for sore, achy muscles after physical activity), delays fatigue, and preserves muscle fibers. ATP is produced naturally in the body from adenine, a nitrogen-containing compound; ribose, a type of sugar; and phosphate units, each containing one phosphorus atom and four oxygen atoms.
One of the most mineral-rich foods known, alfalfa has roots that grow as much as 130 feet into the earth. Alfalfa is available in liquid extract form and is good to use while fasting because of its chlorophyll and nutrient content. It contains digestive-aiding enzymes, amino acids, and carbohydrates. It also contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, plus virtually all known vitamins. The minerals are in a balanced form, which promotes absorption. These minerals are alkaline, but have a neutralizing effect on the intestinal tract.
If you need a mineral supplement, alfalfa is a good choice. It has helped many arthritis sufferers. Alfalfa, wheatgrass, barley, and spirulina, all of which contain chlorophyll, have been found to aid in the healing of intestinal ulcers, gastritis, liver disorders, eczema, hemorrhoids, asthma, high blood pressure, anemia, constipation, body and breath odor, bleeding gums, infections, burns; athlete’s foot, and cancer.
This plant is known for its healing effect and is used in many cosmetic and hair care products. There are over two hundred different species of aloe that grow in dry regions around the world.
Aloe vera is commonly known as a skin healer, moisturizer, and softener. It is dramatically effective on burns of all types, and is also good for cuts, insect stings, bruises, acne and blemishes, poison ivy, welts, skin ulcers, and eczema.
Taken internally, 98 or 99 percent pure aloe vera juice is known to aid in the healing of stomach disorders, ulcers, constipation, hemorrhoids, rectal itching, colitis, and all colon problems.
Aloe vera can also be helpful against infections, varicose veins, skin cancer, and arthritis, and is used in the management of AIDS.
We have had excellent results using colon cleansers containing psyllium husks in combination with aloe vera juice. We have found this combination to be good for food allergy and colon disorder sufferers. Psyllium keeps the folds and pockets in the colon free of toxic material that gathers there. The aloe vera not only has a healing effect, but if constipation or diarrhea is present, it will return the stools to normal.
It takes a few weeks to cleanse the colon, but regular, periodic use will keep the colon clean. As with any substance, it is possible to develop intolerance to aloe vera juice and/or psyllium husks, so this treatment should not be used on an ongoing basis.
Barley grass contains small amounts of calcium, iron, all the essential amino acids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, vitamin Bu, vitamin C, and many minerals, plus enzymes. This food heals stomach, duodenal, and colon disorders as well as pancreatitis, and is an effective anti-inflammatory.
Bee pollen is a powderlike material that is produced by the anthers of flowering plants and gathered by bees. It is composed of 10 to 15 percent protein and also contains B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, essential fatty acids, enzymes, carotene, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, sodium, plant sterols, and simple sugars.
Like other bee products, bee pollen has an antimicrobial effect. In addition, it is useful for combating fatigue, depression, cancer, and colon disorders. It is also helpful for- people with allergies because it strengthens the immune system.It is best to obtain bee pollen from a local source, as this increases its antiallergenic properties. Fresh bee pollen should not cling together or form clumps, and it should be sold in a tightly sealed container. Some people (an estimated 0.05 percent of the population) may be allergic to bee pollen. It is best to try taking a small amount at first and watch for a developing rash, wheezing, discomfort, or any other signs of a reaction. If such symptoms occur, discontinue taking bee pollen.
Bee propolis is a resinous substance collected from various plants by bees. Bees use propolis, together with beeswax, in the construction of hives. As a supplement, it is an excellent aid against bacterial infections. Bee propolis is believed to stimulate phagocytosis, the process by which some white blood cells destroy bacteria.
Propolis is beneficial as a salve for abrasions and bruises because of its antibacterial effect. Good results have been reported on the use of propolis against inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, dry cough and throat, halitosis, tonsillitis, ulcers, and acne, and for the stimulation of the immune system.
Be sure that any bee products you use smell and taste fresh. All bee products should be in tightly sealed containers. It is best to purchase these products from a manufacturer who specializes in bee products. If you are using bee products for allergies, it is best to obtain products that are produced within a ten-mile radius of your home. This way, you get a minute dose of pollen to desensitize you to the local pollen in the area.
Beta-1,3-glucan is a polysaccharide (a complex type of carbohydrate molecule) with immune-stimulating properties. Specifically, it stimulates the activity of macrophages (immune cells that destroy cellular debris), microorganisms, and abnormal cells by surrounding and digesting them.
Beta-1,3-D-glucan is a supplemental form of beta-1,3- glucan made from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. Despite its origin, it does not contain any yeast proteins. It is useful for treating many bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases. It can also kill tumor cells and increase bone marrow production.
Because of its ability to protect the immune system, beta-1,3-D-glucan may protect against the effects of aging. Studies done as early as the 1970s have found that it can reduce the size of cancerous tumors in rats. Further investigation has shown beta-1,3-D-glucan to be a potent agent for healing sores and ulcers in women who have undergone mastectomies.
Chlorella is a tiny, single-celled water-grown alga containing a nucleus and an enormous amount of readily available chlorophyll. It also contains protein (approximately 58 cent), carbohydrates, all of the B vitamins, vitamins C E, amino acids, and rare trace minerals. In fact, it is virtually a complete food. It contains more vitamin B12 liver, plus a considerable amount of beta-carotene. It has strong cell wall, however, which makes it difficult to access to its nutrients. Consequently, it requires fact processing to be effective.
Chlorella is one of the few edible species of water-grown algae. The chlorophyll in chlorella can help speed the cleansing of the bloodstream. Chlorella is very high in and DNA, and has been found to protect against the effects of ultraviolet radiation. Studies show that chlorella is excellent source of protein, especially for people who can not or who choose not to eat meat.
Citrin is a trademarked name for a standardized herbal extract from the fruit of the Garcinia cambogia plant (Indian berry). It inhibits the synthesis of fatty acids in the liver, promotes the burning of body fat as fuel, and suppresses the appetite. Its main usefulness is in treating obesity; it may also aid in preventing or slowing atherosclerosis and heart disease. It does not affect the nervous system or have any side effects. Citrin is found in a number of sold by various manufacturers. Recent studies that Garcitrin, a similar extract made from Garcinia cambogia, may be more effective for weight loss than Citrin.
Coenzyme A, a substance manufactured by body cells from pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), is at the center of the whole metabolic process. It performs a vital role in the process by the cells generate energy from glucose. Indeed, it helps produce around 90 percent of the energy the body to function. Coenzyme A also begins the metabolism of fatty acids. A lack of sufficient coenzyme A can result in stiff, sore muscles and a decrease in energy. Taken as a supplement, coenzyme A increases energy, supports the manufacture of substances critical for the brain and adrenal glands, helps with the manufacture of connective tissue, and supports the immune system. Studies suggest that coenzyme A may be as, if not more, beneficial than coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 is present in the mitochondria of all the cells in the body. It is vital because it carries into the cells the energy-laden protons and electrons that are used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the immediate source of cellular energy. This is a constant process be-cause the body can store only a small quantity of ATP at any one time. It is believed that as many as 75 percent of people over fifty may be deficient in coenzyme Q10. A lack of sufficient coenzyme Q10 can lead to cardiovascular disease. Without enough of it, the heart cannot circulate the blood effectively. Coenzyme Q10 has varied applications, including migraine prevention, improving energy levels, lowering blood pressure, and the management of chronic cardiac failure. It has not been shown to help with glucose management, prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol, enhance blood flow from the heart, or inhibit periodontal disease. In Japan, coenzyme Q10 has been approved for use in treating congestive heart failure.
Colostrum is a thin, yellowish fluid secreted by the mammary glands of mammalian mothers in the first days after giving birth, before the production of true milk begins. It contains high levels of protein and growth factors, as well as immune factors that help to protect the newborn against infection. Taken as a supplement, colostrum can boost the immune system by enhancing the ability of the thymus gland to create T cells and also can help the body to burn fat and build lean muscle. It may also accelerate the healing of injuries, increase vitality and stamina, and have an anti-aging effect.
Supplemental colostrum usually contains bovine (cow) colostrum. Good sources include Colostrum Plus from Symbiotics and Colostrum Prime Life from Jarrow Formulas.
Creatine-(creatine monohydrate) is a compound produced by metabolic processes in the body. When muscles are in use, the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is broken down into two other compounds—adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and inorganic phosphate. This process produces the body’s cellular energy, which, among other things, powers the muscles. Each such burst of energy is very fleeting.
However, with the addition of creatine, ADP can be transformed back to ATP, the source of cellular energy. Taken as a supplement, creatine can increase both endurance and strength, making possible extended workout time. Longer workouts in turn can result in a real increase in lean muscle mass, and do not simply puff up the muscle with water.
Creatine is particularly popular with athletes. The use of creatine for muscle-depleting illnesses and the natural wasting of muscles that comes with age is also being studied. In one study, elderly men and women had improved upper body grip strength and lower body muscle endurance after using creatine. They were less fatigued in general and experienced no side effects from the supplement.
Creatine should be used in combination with a balanced, nutritionally complete diet. Vegetarians do not get enough dietary creatine since it comes exclusively from animal-based foods—and may need supplementation, especially if they exercise. Those who eat animal-based foods consume about 2 grams a day. You should not take it with fruit juices, as this combination results in the production of creatinine, which is difficult for the kidneys to process. Never exceed the recommended dose. Smaller doses (about 2.5 grams) rather than 5 or more grams seemed to be just as effective in growing new muscles during a workout.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that is produced primarily by the adrenal glands and is found naturally in the human body. It is an important base from which other key substances, including the hormones testosterone, progesterone, and corticosterone, can be derived, either directly or indirectly. The amount of DHEA produced by the body declines with age, particularly after age forty. Research indicates that taking DHEA supplements may help to prevent cancer, arterial disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease; may be beneficial in the treatment of lupus and osteoporosis; may enhance the activity of the immune system; and may help to improve memory.
Caution should be exercised when taking this supplement. Some physicians believe that taking high does DHEA suppresses the body’s natural ability to synthesize this hormone. Further, laboratory studies have shown high doses can lead to liver damage. If you take supplemental DHEA, it is important also to take supplements of the antioxidant vitamins C and E and the antioxidant mineral selenium to prevent oxidative damage to the liver.Possible side effects of taking DHEA include excess facial hair in women. This can often be avoided by starting with a dose of 10 milligrams daily. 7-Keto DHEA is a derivative of DHEA that is not converted into estrogen or testosterone, which is good for women concerned about breast cancer and for men concerned about prostate cancer. 7-Keto DHEA is a good and safer alternative to DHEA and has same benefits.
Dimethylglycine (DMG) is a derivative of glycine, the simplest of the amino acids. It acts as a building block for important substances, including the amino acid methionine, choline, a number of important hormones and neurotransmitters,and DNA.
Low levels of DMG are present in meats, seeds and grains. It is a safe, nontoxic food substance that does not build up in the body. No deficiency symptoms are associated with a lack of DMG in the diet, but taking supplemental DMG can have a wide range of beneficial effects, including helping the body maintain high energy levels and boosting mental acuity. DMG has been found to enhance the immune system and to reduce elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It improves oxygen lization by the body, helps to normalize blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and improves the functioning many important organs. It may also be useful for controlling epileptic seizures. Some people have used DMG substitute for pangamic acid, a supplement that is no longer available in the United States but that is widely used Russia to treat heart disease, liver disease, alcohol and addiction, and other problems. DMG is thought to increase pangamic acid levels in the body. Aangamik DMG from FoodScience of Vermont is a good source of supplemental DMG.
Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) is a by-product of wood processing for papermaking. It is a somewhat oily liquid that looks like mineral oil and has a slightly garlicky odor. Because it is an excellent solvent, it is widely used as a degreaser, paint thinner, and antifreeze. However, it also has remarkable therapeutic properties, especially for the healing of injuries. Applying DMSO on sprained ankles, pulled muscle, dislocated joints, and even at the site of simple fractures can virtually eliminate the pain. It also promotes immune system activity.
DMSO is absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream by osmosis through capillary walls. It is then distributed through the circulatory system and ultimately is excreted through the urine. Because of the properties of DMSO, it will take any contaminants on the skin in the product directly into the bloodstream. For this reason, only pure DMSO from a health food source can be used. The use of hardware store DMSO could cause serious health problems. DMSO has been used successfully in the treatment of brain and spinal cord damage, arthritis, Down swndrome, sciatica and other back problems, keloids, acne, burns, musculoskeletal problems, sports injuries, cancer, sinusitis, headaches, skin ulcers, herpes, and cataracts. The use of DMSO may result in a garlicky body odor. This is temporary and is not a cause for concern.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of which fats and oils are composed. Contrary to popular myth, the body does need some of the right kind of fat. The fatty acids that are necessary for health and that cannot be made by the body are called essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs must be supplied through the diet.
EFAs have desirable effects on many disorders. They improve the skin and hair, reduce blood pressure, aid in the prevention of arthritis, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduce the risk of blood clot formation. They are beneficial for candidiasis, cardiovascular disease, eczema, and psoriasis. Found in high concentrations in the brain, EFAs aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, and are needed for the normal development and functioning of the brain. A deficiency of EFAs can lead to an impaired ability learn and recall information. Infant formulas now contain ARA and DHA, essential fats for infants, which may promote better learning.
Every living cell in the body needs EFAs. They are essential for rebuilding and producing new cells. They are also used by the body for the production of prostaglandins, hormonlike substances that act as chemical messengers and regulators of various body process.
There are two basic categories of EFAs, designated omega-3 and omega-6, based on their chemical structures. Omega-3 EFAs, including alpha-linolenic and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are found in fresh deepwater fish, fish oil, and certain vegetable oils, among them canola oil, flax-seed oil, and walnut oil. Omega-6 EFAs, which include linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids, are found primarily in raw nuts, seeds, and legumes, and in unsaturated vegetable oils, such as borage oil, grape seed oil, primrose oil, sesame oil, and soybean oil. A recent study reported in the British medical journal Lancet has shown that omega-3 fatty acids, which create a more stable arterial plaque, are better for your heart than the omega-6 variety. We recommend that you try to increase your consumption of omega-3s at the expense of the omega-6s. In order to supply EFAs, these oils must be consumed in pure liquid or supplement form and must not be subjected to heat, either in processing or cooking. Heat destroys EFAs. Worse, it results in the creation of dangerous free radicals. If oils are hydrogenated (processed to make the oil more solid, as is commonly done in the production of margarine), the linoleic acid is converted into trans-fatty acids, which are not beneficial to the body.
The daily requirement for EFAs is satisfied by an amount equivalent to 10 to 20 percent of total fat intake. The most essential of the EFAs is linoleic acid.
A number of sources of EFAs are recommended in this book, among them fish oils, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, and primrose oil. If you are taking any of these oils, you need to cut back on linoleic-rich oils such as corn, sunflower, and cottonseed oil to avoid getting too much of the omega-6 fats.
Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 EFAs. Salmon, herring, tuna (limit to 1 serving per week), and sardines are good sources of fish oil because they have a higher fat content and provide more omega-3 factors than other fishes.
For instance, 4 ounces of salmon contains 1,000 to 4,600 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, while 4 ounces of cod (a low-fat fish) contains only about 300 milligrams. Menhaden, another type of fish, supplies most of the oil used in dietary supplements because it is rich in omega-3s.
Carlson Laboratories markets a good Norwegian salmon oil that we recommend. Cod liver oil from Norway is the most commonly used fish oil and is milder tasting than other varieties. Author Dale Alexander claims it is excellent for arthritis. He has marketed an oil containing 13,800 international units of vitamin A and 1,380 international units of vitamin D per tablespoon. However, we do not recommend that you rely on cod liver oil as a source of the EFAs. You would have to overdose on vitamins A and D to obtain the amount of fatty acids you need.
People with diabetes have been cautioned not to take fish oil supplements because fish oil may slightly raise blood cholesterol levels. However, the benefit of such oils in reducing triglyceride levels outweighs this risk. People with diabetes should check with their health care provider, but they should consume fish anyway for its EFAs.
Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 EFAs, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. The omega-3s in plant-based foods are not in a bioactive form, which means the body has to process them before it can use them. In contrast, omega-3s from fish are ready for the body to use. Most experts agree that the body uses only 10 percent or less of omega-3s from plant-based foods. Both seeds and oils are also a good source of the B vitamins, protein, and zinc. They are low in saturated fats and calories, and contain no cholesterol. The nutty taste of ground flaxseeds is pleasant, and they can be mixed with water or any fruit or vegetable juice. They can also be added to salads, soups, yogurt, cereals, baked goods, or fresh juices. You can grind these tiny seeds in a coffee grinder.
If you prefer not to eat the seeds, you can use flaxseed oil as an alternative. Like the seeds from which it is extracted, organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil is rich in EFAs. Several studies have shown that it can reduce the pain, inflammation, and swelling of arthritis. It has been found to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and to help reduce the hardening effects of cholesterol on cell membranes.
Grape Seed Oil
Of the many natural sources of EFAs, grape seed oil is among the highest in linoleic acid and among the lowest in saturated fats. Grape seed oil is rich in omega-6 oils, which are essential, but usually we get more than enough omega-6s in our diet, so use it sparingly. It contains no cholesterol and no sodium. It has a light, nutty taste that brings out the flavor in many foods. Unlike most other oils, it can be heated to temperatures as high as 485°F without producing dangerous and possibly carcinogenic free radicals. These features make it good for use in cooking. Buy only grape seed oil that is cold-pressed and contains no preservatives.
Primrose oil (also known as evening primrose oil) contains 9 to 10 percent gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid and may help reduce the likelihood of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. It relieves pain and inflammation; enhances the release of sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone; aids in lowering cholesterol levels; and is beneficial for cirrhosis of the liver.
Many women have found that primrose oil supplements relieve unpleasant menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Because it promotes the production of estrogen, women suffering from breast cancer that is diagnosed as estrogen-receptor positive (estrogen-related) should avoid or limit their intake of primrose oil. Black currant seed oil is a good substitute.
Found in many foods, fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. It helps prevent colon cancer, constipation, hemorrhoids, obesity, and many other disorders. Fiber is also good for removing certain toxic metals from the body. Because the refining process has removed much of the natural fiber from our foods, the typical American diet is lacking in fiber.
There are seven basic classifications of fiber: bran, cellulose, gum, hemicellulose, lignin, mucilages, and pectin. Each form has its own function. It is best to rotate among several different supplemental fiber sources. Start with small amounts and gradually increase your intake until your stools are the proper consistency. Also, be aware that while today’s average diet is lacking in fiber, consuming excessive amounts may decrease the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium. Always take supplemental fiber separately from other medications or supplements. Otherwise, it can lessen their strength and effectiveness.
In addition to using a fiber supplement, you should make sure to get fiber through your diet. Make sure your diet contains these high-fiber foods:
• Whole-grain cereals and flours.
• Brown rice.
• Agar agar (made from the algae species gelidium; also called dai choy goh).
• All kinds of bran.
• Fresh fruit.
• Dried prunes
• Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
• Fresh, raw vegetables.
Eat several of these foods daily. When eating organic produce, leave the skin on apples and potatoes. Coat chicken in corn bran or oats for baking. Add extra bran to cereals and breads. Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn is also excellent for added fiber.
Cellulose is an indigestible carbohydrate (or insoluble fiber) found in the outer layer of vegetables and fruits. It is good for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, colitis, and constipation, and for the removal of cancer-causing substances from the colon wall.
It is found in apples, beets, Brazil nuts, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lima beans, pears, peas, and whole grains.
Because it slows the absorption of food after meals, pectin is good for people with diabetes. It also removes unwanted metals and toxins, reduces the side effects of radiation therapy, helps lower cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart disease and gallstones. Pectin is found in apples, bananas, beets, cabbage, carrots, citrus fruits, dried peas, and okra.
5-Hydroxyl L-Tryptophan (5-HTP)
5-HTP is a substance that is created naturally in the body from the amino acid tryptophan, and that in turn is used by the body to produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. Supplemental 5-HTP is derived from the seeds of the griffonia plant (Griffonia simplicifolia), which is native to western Africa. It can be used to aid in weight loss, insomnia, and depression.
5-HTP should be used together with a high-carbohydrate food or liquid such as orange juice, and as part of a comprehensive nutritional program. It may not benefit everyone who takes it. If you regularly take large doses of 5-HTP (more than 300 milligrams daily), you should undergo blood testing for eosinophil (a type of white blood cell) levels every three months. HTP.Calm from Natural Balance is a good source of 5-HTP. You should avoid this supplement if you are taking antidepressants.
Garlic is one of the most valuable foods on this planet. It has been used since biblical times and is mentioned in the literature of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, Babylonians, Romans, and Egyptians. The builders of the pyramids supposedly ate garlic daily for endurance and strength.
Garlic lowers blood pressure through the actions of one of its components, methyl-allyl-trisulfide, which dilates blood vessels. It thins the blood by inhibiting platelet aggregation, which reduces the risk of blood clots and aids in preventing heart attacks. It also lowers serum cholesterol levels and aids in digestion. Garlic is useful for many diseases and illnesses, including cancer. It is a potent immune system stimulant and a natural antibiotic. It should be consumed daily. It can be eaten fresh, taken in supplement form, or used to prepare garlic oil.
Garlic contains an amino acid derivative, alliin. When garlic is consumed, the enzyme alliinase, which converts alliin to allicin, is released. Allicin has an antibiotic effect; it exerts an antibacterial effect estimated to be equivalent to 1 percent of that of penicillin. Because of its antibiotic properties, garlic was used to treat wounds and infections and to prevent gangrene during World War I.
Garlic is also effective against fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, systemic candidiasis, and yeast vaginitis. There is some evidence that it may also destroy certain viruses, such as those associated with fever blisters, genital herpes, a form of the common cold, smallpox, and a type of influenza.
Garlic oil is good for the heart and colon, and is effective in the treatment of arthritis, candidiasis, and circulation problems. To make garlic oil, add peeled whole garlic cloves to a quart of olive or canola oil. Experiment to find the number of cloves that gives the degree of flavor you like. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and rinse the garlic after peeling and before placing it in the oil. The peel may contain mold and bacteria that can contaminate the oil.
Keep garlic oil refrigerated. This mixture will keep for up to a month before you need to replace it with fresh oil. Garlic oil can be used for sautéing, in salad dressings, and in a variety of other ways. If you find the odor too strong after you eat garlic, chew some sprigs of parsley or mint, or caraway or fennel seeds.
An alternative to fresh garlic is Kyolic from Wakunaga of America. Kyolic is an odorless, “sociable” garlic product, and is available in tablet, capsule, and oil extract forms.
The ornamental tree Ginkgo biloba originated in China thousands of years ago, and now grows in temperate climates throughout the world. The extract of its fan-shaped leaves is one of the world’s most popular herbal products. It has been reported in scientific journals to enhance blood circulation and to increase the supply of oxygen to the heart, brain, and all bodily parts. This makes it useful for improving memory and relieving muscle pains. It also acts as an antioxidant, has antiaging effects, reduces blood pressure, inhibits blood clotting, and is helpful for tinnitus, vertigo, hearing loss, impotence, and Raynaud’s disease.
Ginkgo biloba is widely known as the “smart herb” of our time. It has even been said to slow the early progression of Alzheimer’s disease in some individuals. In one study of the very old (over eighty-five years of age), ginkgo bilboa was shown to slow the progression of dementia and memory decline. There also was no increased risk of bleeding, as had been reported in earlier studies.
Ginseng is used throughout the Far East as a general tonic to combat weakness and give extra energy. There are a number of different varieties of ginseng:
• Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng),
• Panax quinquefolium (American ginseng),
• Panax ginseng (Chinese or Korean ginseng), and
• Panax japonicum (Japanese ginseng).
Panax ginseng is the most widely used species. Early Native Americans were familiar with ginseng. They called it gisens and used it for stomach and bronchial disorders,asthma, and neck pain. Russian scientists claim that the ginseng root stimulates both physical and mental activity, improves endocrine gland function, and has a positive effect on the sex glands. It has been shown to help men regain sexual function. Ginseng is beneficial for fatigue because it spares glycogen (the form of glucose stored in the liver and muscle cells) by increasing the use of fatty acids as an energy source. It is used to enhance athletic performance, to rejuvenate, to increase longevity, and to detoxify and normalize the entire system. Many studies have shown ginseng to be effective at improving energy levels, endurance, and alertness. Cancer patients who used ginseng reported a better quality of life, especially related to mood and socialization.
In lower doses, ginseng seems to raise blood pressure, while higher amounts appear to reduce blood pressure. Research suggests that high doses of ginseng may be helpful for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, without the side effects of steroids, and may also protect against the harmful effects of radiation. Ginseng is beneficial for people with diabetes because it decreases the level of the hormone cortisol in the blood (cortisol interferes with the function of insulin). Normal individuals who were tested with one of several specially prepared ginseng for-mulas experienced less blood sugar response after a meal, but the level was not low enough to be harmful. Other parts of the ginseng plant used in this study had no effect on blood sugar levels. A portion of the ginseng rootlet referred to as Rgl seemed to be the most important regulator 3f blood sugar response to foods. Nevertheless, people with hypoglycemia should avoid using large amounts of ginseng.
The root is sold in many forms: as a whole root or root pieces, which are either untreated or blanched; as a powder or powdered extract; as a liquid extract or concentrate; in granules for instant tea; as a tincture; in an oil base; and in tablets and capsules. These products should not contain sugar or added color, and should be pure ginseng. Many supplement manufacturers add ginseng to combination products, but these often contain such low amounts that they may not be effective.
We advise following the Russian approach to using ginseng: Take it for fifteen to twenty days, followed by a rest period of two weeks. Avoid long-term usage of high doses. Ginseng should not be used by people with high blood pressure, or during pregnancy or lactation.
This is one of a number of substances classified as an amino sugar. Unlike other forms of sugar in the body, amino sugars are components of carbohydrates that are incorporated into the structure of body tissues, rather than being used as a source of energy. Glucosamine is thus involved in the formation of the nails, tendons, skin, eyes, bones, ligaments, and heart valves. It also plays a role in the mucous secretions of the digestive, respiratory, and urinary tracts.
Glucosamine is made in the body from the simple carbohydrate glucose and the amino acid glutamine. It is found in high concentrations in joint structures. It is also available as a supplement, in the form of glucosamine sulfate, which helps to combat both the causes and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine has been studied in nearly 200 clinical trials. Although not all the participants in these studies responded to the supplements, most did. For patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, glucosamine was more effective than taking nothing, and reduced the likelihood of needing a knee replacement. Glucosamine was also shown to help with acute injuries such as one would get from exercise. Athletes with recent knee injuries healed faster in terms of knee flexion and extension when using glucosamine compared to a group who took nothing.
It can also slightly reduce the destruction of cartilage and depression caused by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are commonly prescribed for people with arthritis. Glucosamine may be taken in conjunction with chondroitin sulfate for an even greater effect on osteoarthritis.
In addition to having benefits for people with osteoarthritis, supplemental glucosamine can be helpful for asthma, bursitis, candidiasis, food allergies, osteoporosis, respiratory allergies, tendinitis, vaginitis, and various skin problems. The product GS-500 from Enzymatic Therapy is a good source of glucosamine. GlucosaMend from Source Naturals and Glucosamine Plus from FoodScience of Vermont are other recommended products. A related compound is N-acetylglucosamine (NAG), available as N-A-G from Source Naturals.
“Green drinks” are natural food formulas made from plants that are good detoxifiers and blood cleansers, as well as sources of chlorophyll, minerals, enzymes, and other important nutrients. Greens help neutralize acid buildup in the blood. Eating a Western diet, which is high in meat, dairy, and grains, produces an excess of hydrogen ions in the blood, making it acidic. An adequate intake of fruits and vegetables can counteract this effect, but few of us consume enough of these foods. The green drinks leave an alkaline residue upon digestion, just like fruits and vegetables. This neutralizes the acid from the other foods. Generally, green drinks are sold in powdered form to be mixed just before use. Many different companies market green drink formulas. We recommend buying organic green drinks. In addition, those that provide the greatest number of different plants offer a broader range of antioxidant protection. The following are some recommended products:
• BarleyLife from AIM International. This product contains a combination of barley juice and kelp.
• Earthsource Greens & More from Solgar. This formula combines four organically grown grasses (alfalfa, barley, kamut, and wheat), Hawaiian blue-green spirulina, and Chinese chlorella with three potent immune-stimulating mushrooms (maitake, reishi, and shiitake), plus powdered broccoli, carrots, and red beets, which supply phytonutrients. Its fruit flavor comes from fresh fruit powders.
• Green Magma from Green Foods Corporation. Green Magma is a pure, natural juice of young barley leaves that are organically grown in Japan and are pesticide-free. Brown rice is added to supply vitamins Bl (thiamine) and B3 (niacin) and linoleic acid. Green Magma contains thousands of enzymes, which play an important role in the metabolism of the body (see ENZYMES in Part One), plus a high concentration of superoxide dismutase (SOD). The powdered product may be added to juice or quality water.
• Kyo-Green from Wakunaga of America. This is a combination of barley, wheatgrass, kelp, and the green algae chlorella. The barley and wheatgrass are organically grown. It is a highly concentrated natural source of chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, carotene, and enzymes. Chlorella is a rich natural source of vitamin A, and kelp supplies iodine and other valuable minerals. (See Chlorella and Kelp in this section.)
• ProGreens from NutriCology (Allergy Research Group). ProGreens includes organic alfalfa, barley, oat, and wheat-grass juice powders; natural fiber; wheat sprouts; blue-green algae; sea algae; fructooligosaccharides (FOS); lecithin; standardized bioflavonoid extracts; along with royal jelly and bee pollen; beet and spinach extracts; acerola juice powder; natural vitamin E; and the herbs astragalus, echinacea, licorice, Siberian ginseng, and suma.
Green (unripe) papaya is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Ounce for ounce, it contains more vitamin A than carrots and more vitamin C than oranges, as well as abundant B vitamins and vitamin E. The complex of enzymes it contains helps to digest proteins, carbo-hydrates, and fats.
Green papaya can be eaten fresh or taken in supplement form. Papain is the most abundant, most active enzyme in both the fresh fruit and the powdered supplement form. Papain possesses very powerful digestive action.
Bees produce honey by mixing nectar, which is a sweet substance secreted by flowers, with bee enzymes. Honey is a highly concentrated source of many essential nutrients, including large amounts of carbohydrates (sugars), some minerals, B-complex vitamins, and vitamins C, D, and E.
Honey is used to promote energy and healing. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for relieving symptoms of coughing from an upper respiratory tract infection in people two to eighteen years of age. The FDA and leading medical groups have called the effectiveness of most cold and flu preparations into question. Honey offers a natural and effective alternative. It is a natural antiseptic and makes a good salve for burns and wounds. Honey is also used for sweetening foods and beverages. It varies somewhat in color and taste depending on the origin of the flower and nectar, but in general it is approximately twice as sweet as sugar, so not as much is needed for sweetening purposes.
People who have diabetes or hypoglycemia should be careful when consuming honey and its by-products. These substances affect blood sugar levels in the same way that refined sugars do. Tupelo honey contains more fructose than other types of honey and it is absorbed at a slower rate, so some people with hypoglycemia can use this type sparingly without ill effects.
Buy only unfiltered, unheated, unprocessed honey, and never give honey to an infant under one year of age. In its natural form, honey can contain spores of the bacteria that cause botulism. This poses no problem for adults and older children, but in infants and those with compromised immune systems, the spores can colonize the digestive tract nd produce the deadly botulin toxin there. Honey is safe babies after age one.
Inosine occurs naturally in the human body. It is involved n the rebuilding of adenosine triphosphate and stimulates the production of a compound designated 2,3-disphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG), which is needed in the transportation of oxygen to muscle cells for the production of energy. Weight and endurance trainers have found supplemental inosine to be beneficial; it is believed to increase muscle development and blood circulation. It also enhances immune function.
If you have kidney problems or gout, you should not take inosine because it can increase the production of uric acid. For best results, use the dosage recommended by the manufacturer for your body size, and take it forty-five to sixtv minutes prior to exercising.
Kelp is a type of seaweed that can be eaten raw, but it is usually dried, granulated, or ground into powder. It is also available in a liquid form that can be added to drinking water. Granulated or powdered kelp can be used as a condiment and for flavoring, as a salt substitute. If you find the taste unappealing, you can purchase it in tablet form.
Kelp is a rich source of vitamins, especially the B vitamins, as well as of many valuable minerals and trace elements. It is reported to be very beneficial to brain tissue, the membranes surrounding the brain, the sensory nerves, and the spinal cord, as well as the nails and blood vessels. It has been used in the treatment of thyroid problems because of its iodine content, and is useful for other conditions as varied as hair loss, obesity, and ulcers. It protects against the effects of radiation and softens stools. Kelp is recommended as a daily dietary supplement, especially for people with mineral deficiencies.
Lecithin is a type of lipid that is needed by every living cell in the human body. Cell membranes, which regulate the passage of nutrients into and out of the cells, are largely composed of lecithin. The protective sheaths surrounding the brain are composed of lecithin, and the muscles and nerve cells also contain this essential fatty substance.
Lecithin consists mostly of the B vitamin choline, and also contains linoleic acid and inositol. Although lecithin is a lipid, it is partly soluble in water and thus acts as an emulsifying agent. This is why many processed foods contain lecithin.
This nutrient helps to prevent arteriosclerosis, protects against cardiovascular disease, improves brain function, and aids in the absorption of thiamine by the liver and vitamin A by the intestine. It is also known to promote energy and is needed to help repair damage to the liver caused by alcoholism. Lecithin enables fats, such as cholesterol and other lipids, to be dispersed in water and removed from the body. The vital organs and arteries are thus protected from fatty buildup.
Lecithin would be a wise addition to anyone’s diet. It is especially valuable for older adults. Anyone who is taking niacin for high serum cholesterol and triglycerides should also include lecithin in his or her program. Two tablespoons of lecithin granules can be sprinkled on cereals and soups or added to juices or breads. Lecithin also comes in capsule form. Taking one 1,200-milligram capsule before each meal helps in the digestion of fats and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. More recently, a mixture of lecithin and soy stanols has been shown to be an effective cholesterol-lowering supplement. It can reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the diet, thereby reducing both total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol).
Most lecithin is derived from soybeans, but recently egg lecithin has become popular. This type of lecithin is extracted from the yolks of fresh eggs. Egg lecithin may hold promise for those suffering from AIDS, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and immune disorders associated with aging. Studies have shown that it works better for people with these disorders than soy lecithin does. Other sources of lecithin include brewer’s yeast, grains, legumes, fish, and wheat germ.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is a mushroom that has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology and cooking. It grows wild in Japan, as well as in some wooded areas in eastern North America. Because maitake is difficult to cultivate, however, only relatively recently have the mushrooms become widely available.
Maitake is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body adapt to stress and normalizes bodily functions. Its healing properties are thought to be related to its high content of a polysaccharide called beta-1,6-glucan, which is considered very powerful. In laboratory studies, this substance has been shown to prevent carcinogenesis, inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors, kill HIV, and enhance the activity of key immune cells known as T-helper cells or CD4 cells. Maitake may also be useful for diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic hepatitis, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Maitake can be eaten in food or taken as a supplement. Buy organically grown dried mushrooms (when using them in cooking, soak them in water or broth for half an hour first), or purchase maitake in capsule, extract, or tea form. Some of the capsule supplements contain a small amount of vitamin C, which enhances the effectiveness of the active ingredient in maitake by aiding in its absorption.
The hormone melatonin is naturally produced by the pineal gland, a cone-shaped structure in the brain. The body’s pattern of melatonin production is similar to that of the other “antiaging” hormones, human growth hormone (HGH) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Throughout early life, melatonin is produced in abundance. It was thought for some time that the production of melatonin begins to drop at puberty, and then continues to decline steadily as we age. This may not be true, according to research done at the Harvard Medical School. Researchers say that older people who were on aspirin therapy might have skewed the results because taking aspirin reduces melatonin levels in the body.
Research has demonstrated that melatonin may have all profound long-term effects on the body. As one of most powerful antioxidants ever discovered—with a range of effectiveness than vitamin C, vitamin E, or beta-carotene—melatonin helps prevent harmful oxidation reactions from occurring. In this way, melatonin may prevent the changes that lead to hypertension and heart attack, and may reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer.Melatonin also has been found to stimulate the immune system, have a major role in the production of estrogen, testosterone, and possibly other hormones, helping to prevent cancers involving the reproductive system; and slow growth of existing malignancies. Recent studies suggest that if melatonin is taken in the mornings, tumor growth may be stimulated, but if it is taken in the evenings, tumor growth tends to be slowed. In addition, as melatonin is secreted cyclically, in response to the fall of darkness at the end of each day, the hormone helps our bodies keep in sync with the rhythms of day and night. Thus, melatonin helps regulate sleep.
Research on melatonin continues, and with it, knowledge is increasing about the functions of melatonin in the and the effects of melatonin supplementation. Melatonin is the internal sleep facilitator in humans. Both human research studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that melatonin supplements can be an effective and side effect sleep aid both for adults suffering from insomnia and children with autism, epilepsy,Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other problems that can cause sleep disorders.There is evidence that supplemental melatonin can sleep by reducing restlessness before sleep, and correct sleep patterns during sleep so you feel rested upon awakening. Sleeping disorders increase with age , and melatonin has been shown to help. Subjects over fifty-five years of age who used 2 milligrams of time-released melatonin had better quality of sleep and felt more alert in the morning. It has been shown to be effective in those who suffer from minor sleep disorders when used on a regular basis, and episodically for jet lag or shift workers. In addition, in a rare condition resulting in nocturnal hypertension, patients using
melatonin experienced a reduction in blood pressure while they slept. For patients with mild cognitive impairment, melatonin allowed for better performance on several tests that assess cognitive function. Mental acuity was thought to improve because the patients slept better and felt refreshed in the morning.
Animal and other laboratory research indicates that melatonin supplementation may help prevent age-related disorders, and perhaps extend life. Melatonin can be taken to ease PMS symptoms; stimulate the immune system; prevent memory loss, arteriosclerosis, and stroke; and treat cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although no toxic levels of melatonin have been found, it is a powerful hormone, and some researchers feel that certain people probably should not use this supplement until further information is available. Included in this category are pregnant and nursing women; people with severe allergies or autoimmune diseases; people with immune system cancers, such as lymphoma and leukemia; and healthy children, who already produce sufficient amounts of the hormone. Because high doses of melatonin have been found to act as a contraceptive, women who wish to become pregnant also might want to avoid taking this supplement.
Melatonin should be taken two hours or less before bedtime. This schedule is designed to release the added hormone at the same time that natural production peaks. A sustained-release form is best if you frequently awaken after several hours’ sleep; a sublingual form is best if you are very ill or suffer from malabsorption. When you awaken after melatonin-assisted sleep, you should feel refreshed—not tired or groggy. If you do experience grogginess, you should reduce the dosage.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM, also known as dimethylsulfone) is a naturally occurring organic sulfur compound found in plant and animal tissues that is essential for optimum health. It is a derivative of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), which has remarkable therapeutic properties, especially for the healing of injuries. It can also help to detoxify the body on a cellular level. MSM helps to nourish the hair, skin, and nails; relieve pain and inflammation; reduce allergy problems; and promote gastrointestinal health. It has also been found to aid immune function, and there have been reports of benefits to patients with heartburn, arthritis, lung problems, migranes, and music pain. MSM is present naturally in food such as fresh fish, meat, plants, fruit, and milk.
Most North Americans today eat considerable amount of processed food, and MSM is normally either not present at all or present only in very small amounts in the typical diet. Most people therefore would probably benefit from supplementation.
Research suggests that we require a constant supply of MSM for optimum good health, as sulphur is one of the essential minerals. Commonly recommended dosage levels are about 2,000 miligrams (2 grams) per day taken in divided doses, with the morning and evening meals, but it is best to start out at 1,000 miligrams (1 gram) per day avoid too – rapid rate of detoxification. Higher doses (3000 milligrams twice in a day) were shown to safe and effective at helping patients with osteoaethritis perform daily activities and feel better in general. The positive effects in this study occurred in eighty-four days. However, benefits could become evident in as few as two to twenty-one days, and can be enhanced by vitamin C supplementation. II, pain and soreness decreased in group of patients with osteoarthritis.
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is an herbal supplement that has been shown to be effective against virtually all the viruses and bacteria on which it has been tested. Laboratory studies suggest that olive leaf extract interferes with viral infection becoming established and spreading, either by rendering viruses incapable of infecting cells or by preventing them from reproducing. It has been shown to help protect against infection by such viruses as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpesviruses, and influenza viruses. It is useful for such disorders as pneumonia, sore throat, sinusitis, and skin diseases such as chronic infections and rashes, as well as for fungal and bacterial infections. Olivir from DaVinci Laboratories is a good source of olive leaf extract that has been tested in clinical trials.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria normally present in the digestive tract. They are vital for proper digestion and also perform a number of other useful functions, such as preventing the overgrowth of yeast and other pathogens, and synthesizing vitamin K. The probiotics most often used as supplements are acidophilus and bifidobacteria.
Cultured, or fermented, foods also contain various types and amounts of beneficial bacteria. These foods include buttermilk, cheese, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, umeboshi, and yogurt.
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is a food product created by fermenting rice with a strain of red yeast (Monascus purpureus Went yeast). It is also sometimes referred to as Monascus rice or, in Chinese, Hung-chu or Hong-Qu. It has long been used in China and Japan as a food and as a remedy for digestive ailments and poor circulation. More recently, red yeast rice extract, taken in supplement form, has been found both to reduce overall blood cholesterol levels and to improve the ratio of HDL (“good cholesterol”) to LDL (“bad cholesterol”). A study conducted by the University of California -Los Angeles, School of Medicine found that people who took red yeast rice and maintained a low-fat diet reduced their overall cholesterol levels by an average of 40 points over a period of twelve weeks. The extract contains a number of cholesterol lowering compounds known as statins. One of these is lovastatin, a substance also sold as a prescription drug under the brand name Mevacor. Lovastatin acts to lower cholesterol by inhibiting the action of an enzyme designated HMG-CoA reductase, which in turn limits the rate at which the body produces cholesterol. Studies have shown statins to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack. Unlike prescription products, red yeast rice extract has shown no serious adverse side effects in clinical trials. Smaller amounts of lovastatin from a plant as opposed to drugs are required to be effective. This is because it is thought that the natural compounds in the plant work synergistically with the active ingredient. Merck, which sells Mevacor, asked the FDA to ban red yeast rice extract. The FDA considered Merck’s request, but decided to allow companies to continue to sell it. However, the FDA did mandate that there cannot be any mention of lowering cholesterol levels or reducing heart disease risk. Check with your health care professional before using red yeast rice.
Royal jelly is a thick, milky substance that is secreted from the pharyngeal glands of a special group of young nurse bees between their sixth and twelfth days of life. When honey and pollen are combined and refined within the young nurse bee, royal jelly is naturally created. This sub-stance contains all of the B-complex vitamins, including a high concentration of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and is the only natural source of pure acetylcholine. Royal jelly also contains minerals, enzymes, hormones, eighteen amino acids, antibacterial and antibiotic components, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. It is useful for bronchial asthma, liver disease, pancreatitis, insomnia, stomach ulcers, kidney disease, bone fractures, and skin disorders, and it strengthens the immune system. This product must be combined with honey to preserve its potency. Royal jelly spoils easily. Keep it refrigerated and make sure it is tightly sealed when purchased.
Shiitake and Reishi
Shiitake and reishi are Japanese mushrooms with a delicate texture, strong stems, and well-defined undersides. They are attractive and have impressive health-promoting properties.
Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) contain a polysaccharide, lentinan, that strengthens the immune system by increasing T cell function. Shiitake mushrooms contain eighteen amino acids, seven of which are essential amino acids. They are rich in B vitamins, especially vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin). When sun-dried, they contain high amounts of vitamin D. Their effectiveness in treating cancer has been reported in a joint study by the Medical Department of Koibe University and Nippon Kinoko Institute in Japan. These mushrooms are considered delicacies and are entirely edible.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) have been popular for at least two thousand years in the Far East. They were rated number one on ancient Chinese lists of superior medicines, and were believed to give eternal youth and longevity.
Today, both shiitake and reishi mushrooms are used to treat a variety of disorders and to promote vitality. They are used to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, to control and lower cholesterol, to build resistance to disease, and to treat fatigue and viral infections. They are also known to have anti-tumor properties valuable in treating cancer.
The mushrooms are available fresh or dried for use in foods (soak dried mushrooms in warm water or broth for thirty minutes before using), as well as in supplements in capsule, pill, and extract form.
Spirulina is a microalgae that thrives in hot, sunny climates and in alkaline waters around the world, and produces twenty times as much protein as soybeans growing on an equal sized area of land. It contains concentrations of nutrients unlike any other single grain, herb, or plant. Among its valuable components are gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic and arachidonic acids, vitamin B12 (needed, especially by vegetarians, for healthy red blood cells), iron, a high level of protein (60 to 70 percent), essential amino acids, and the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, along with chlorophyll, and phycocyanin, a blue pigment that is found only in blue-green algae and that has increased the survival rate of mice with liver cancer in laboratory experiments. Spirulina has been clinically tested and has shown a variety of effects. Those with the common cold experienced less sneezing and congestion. Others showed lowered cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Finally, those who used spirulina as part of their regular diet had reduced postexercise muscle soreness that may have allowed them to have longer workout sessions.
Spirulina is a naturally digestible food that aids in protecting the immune system, in cholesterol reduction, and in mineral absorption. Because it supplies nutrients needed to help cleanse and heal, while also curbing the appetite, it is beneficial for people who are fasting. A person with hypoglycemia may benefit from using this food supplement between meals because its high protein content helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
Wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat berry. It is a good source of vitamin E; most of the B vitamins; the minerals calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; and several trace elements.
One problem with wheat germ is that it spoils easily. If you purchase wheat germ separately from the flour, make sure the product is fresh. It should be either vacuum packed or refrigerated, with a packing date or a label stating the date by which the product should be used. Toasted wheat germ has a longer shelf life, but the raw product is better because it is unprocessed. Wheat germ oil capsules are also available.
Wheatgrass is a rich nutritional food that was popularized by the late Dr. Ann Wigmore, an educator and founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston. Wheatgrass contains a great variety of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. According to Dr. Wigmore, 1 pound of fresh wheat-grass is equal in nutritional value to nearly 25 pounds of the choicest vegetables.
Dr. Wigmore reported that wheatgrass therapy, along with “living foods,” helped to eliminate cancerous growths and helped many other disorders, including mental health problems. The molecular structure of chlorophyll resembles that of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein of red blood cells, and this may be the reason for the effectiveness of wheatgrass. The key difference between the two is that the metallic atom in the middle of each molecule of human hemoglobin is iron, while the metallic atom at the center of a molecule of chlorophyll is magnesium. In experiments on anemic animals, blood counts returned to normal after four to five days of receiving chlorophyll.
Yeast are single-celled organisms that can multiply at extremely rapid rates, doubling in number in two hours. Yeast is rich in many basic nutrients, such as the B vitamins (except for vitamin B12), sixteen amino acids, and at least fourteen different minerals. The protein content of yeast is responsible for 52 percent of its weight. Yeast is also high in phosphorus. There are various media on which yeast may be grown. Brewer’s yeast, also known as nutritional yeast, is grown on hops, a bitter herb that is also used as an ingredient in beer. Torula yeast is grown on blackstrap molasses or wood pulp. A liquid yeast product from Switzerland called Bio-Strath, distributed by A. Vogel/Bioforce USA, is derived from herbs, honey, and malt. It is a natural product that we highly recommend. Live baker’s yeast should be avoided. Live yeast cells actually deplete the body of B vitamins and other nutrients. In nutritional yeast, these live cells are destroyed, leaving the beneficial nutrients behind. Yeast may be consumed in juice or water, and is a good energy booster between meals. It can also be added to the diet to aid in treating certain disorders. It helps in sugar metabolism and is good for eczema, heart disorders, gout, nervousness, and fatigue. By enhancing the immune system, yeast is useful for people undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer. Yeast also seems to increase mental and physical efficiency.
Every living cell on this planet depends on minerals for proper function and structure. Minerals are needed for the proper composition of body fluids, the formation of blood and bone, the maintenance of healthy nerve function, and the regulation of muscle tone, including that of the muscles of the cardiovascular system. Like vitamins, minerals function as coenzymes, enabling the body to perform its functions, including energy production, growth, and healing. Because all enzyme activities involve minerals, they are essential for the proper utilization of vitamins and other nutrients.
Minerals are responsible for maintaining the chemical balance of the body, which when disturbed can initiate a chain reaction of imbalances that leads to illness. Nutritionally, minerals belong to two groups: bulk minerals (also called macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals). Trace minerals include boron, chromium,copper, germanium, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon, sulfur, vanadium, and zinc.
THE ABCs OF MINERALS
Boron is needed in trace amounts for healthy bones and muscle growth because it assists in the production of natural steroid compounds within the body. It is also necessary for the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Boron enhances brain function, promotes alertness, and plays a role in how the body utilizes energy from fats and sugars. Most people are not deficient in boron. However, elderly people usually benefit from taking a supplement of 2 to 3 milligrams daily because they have greater problems with calcium absorption. Boron deficiency accentuates vitamin D deficiency.
Boron helps to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis and build muscle. New research indicates that taking supplemental boron can shrink prostate tumor size, lower blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA, a marker for prostate cancer), and may help prevent prostate cancer. Boron alleviates joint discomfort and preserves cognitive function. Studies have shown that in areas of the world where the level of boron in the soil is low, there are a greater number of people suffering from arthritis. A study indicated that within eight days of supplementing their daily diet with 3 milligrams of boron, a test group of postmenopausal women lost 40 percent less calcium, one-third less magnesium, and slightly less phosphorus through their urine than they had before beginning boron supplementation.
Boron is found naturally in apples, carrots, grapes, dark green leafy vegetables, raw nuts, pears, and whole grains.
Do not take more than 3 to 6 milligrams of supplemental boron daily unless it is prescribed by a health care professional. Boron is toxic in high doses (15 milligrams or more daily for adults, lesser for children) but is not carcinogenic or mutagenic. Many supplements for bone health contain 3 milligrams of boron. If you are also using a multivitamin/multimineral supplement, be sure that your total intake through diet and supplements does not exceed 20 milligrams.
Calcium is vital for the formation of strong bones and teeth and for the maintenance of healthy gums. It is also important in the maintenance of a regular heartbeat and in the transmission of nerve impulses. Calcium lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent cardiovascular disease. It is needed for muscular growth and contraction, and for the prevention of muscle cramps. It may increase the rate of bone growth and bone mineral density in children. Recently, calcium from dairy products or supplements has been shown to promote weight loss, especially in terms of fat loss. However, these findings are not universally accepted.
This important mineral is also essential in blood clotting and helps prevent cancer. It may lower blood pressure and prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis as well. Calcium provides energy and participates in the protein structuring of RNA and DNA. It is also involved in the activation of several enzymes, including lipase, which breaks down fats for utilization by the body. In addition, calcium maintains proper cell membrane permeability, aids in neuromuscular activity, helps to keep the skin healthy, and protects against the development of preeclampsia during pregnancy, the number one cause of maternal death. If high blood pressure develops due to pregnancy, it can be reduced by calcium intake.
Calcium protects the bones and teeth from lead by inhibiting absorption of this toxic metal. If there is a calcium deficiency, lead can be absorbed by the body and deposited in the teeth and bones.
Calcium deficiency can lead to the following problems: aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, elevated blood cholesterol, heart palpitations, hypertension (high blood pressure), insomnia, muscle cramps, nervousness, numbness in the arms and/or legs, a pasty complexion, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, and tooth decay. Deficiencies of calcium are also associated with cognitive impairment, convulsions, depression, delusions, and hyperactivity.
Calcium is found in dairy foods, salmon (with bones), sardines, seafood, and dark green leafy vegetables. Other food sources include almonds, asparagus, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, buttermilk, cabbage, carob, cheese, collards, dandelion greens, dulse, figs, filberts, goat’s milk, kale, kelp, milk, mustard greens, oats, prunes, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, turnip greens, watercress, whey, and yogurt.
Herbs that contain calcium include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, flaxseed, hops, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, shepherd’s purse, violet leaves, yarrow, and yellow dock. The amount of calcium in these herbs is so small, however, that they should not be considered as contributing to dietary intake.
Calcium may sometimes interfere with the effects of calcium channel blockers prescribed for heart problems and high blood pressure. Calcium can also interfere with the effectiveness of tetracycline, thyroid hormone, certain anticonvulsants, and steroids. Consult your health care provider before taking supplemental calcium if you must take any of these drugs.
Phenobarbital and diuretics may cause a deficiency of calcium. Although several major studies have shown that added calcium in the diet does not appear to increase the risk for either a first or repeat attack of kidney stones, persons with a history of kidney stones or kidney disease should not take calcium supplements except on the advice of a physician. The maximum safe dosage of supplemental calcium is now placed at 2,500 milligrams per day.
Newer data has shown that calcium from dairy and supplements increases the risk of prostate cancer. It was observed that who consumed more than 2.5 servings a day of dairy products (about 600 milligrams) had a 32 percent increase in prostate cancer. Studies have found a relationship between dairy product consumption and the nonaggressive form of prostate cancer but not the aggressive form. The low-fat dairy products were more harmful than those with more fat or than calcium-containing foods that are not dairy products. Dairy products may also lead to an increased risk when used in conjunction with a high-protein diet.
Because it is involved in the metabolism of glucose, chromium (sometimes also called glucose tolerance factor orGTF) is needed for energy. It is also vital in the synthesis of cholesterol, fats, and proteins. This essential mineral maintains blood sugar levels through proper insulin utilization, and can be helpful both for people with diabetes and those with hypoglycemia. Studies have shown that low plasma chromium levels can be an indication of coronary artery disease. Additional chromium is needed during pregnancy because the developing fetus increases demand for this mineral. Chromium supplements can help an expectant mother maintain healthy blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
An average diet is chromium deficient. There are five main reasons for this: The form of chromium in many foods is not easily absorbed (only 0.4 to 2.5 percent of dietary chromium is absorbed); not enough foods containing chromium are consumed; much of the chromium content is lost during processing; many people do not like the foods that are the best sources of chromium; and high quantities of sugar in the diet cause a loss of chromium from the body. Researchers estimate that two out of every three individuals have glucose regulation issues including hypoglycemia, pre-hypoglycemia, or diabetes. The ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels is jeopardized by the lack of chromium in our soil and water supply and by a diet high in refined white sugar, flour, and junk foods. A number of human and animal studies have found that chromium supplements can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control in the face of insulin resistance, elevated blood glucose levels, impaired glucose tolerance, and diabetes.
A deficiency of chromium can lead to anxiety, fatigue, glucose intolerance (particularly in people with diabetes), inadequate metabolism of amino acids, and an increased risk of arteriosclerosis. Excessive intake (the level depends upon individual tolerance) can lead to chromium toxicity, which has been associated with dermatitis, gastrointestinal ulcers, and kidney and liver impairment. No toxicities have been reported, and thus chromium does not have an Upper Limit of Safety (UL). The form of chromium that is obtained through diet is called divalent (which is safe) and the one that is toxic is hexavalent.
Supplemental chromium is best absorbed by the body when it is taken in a form called chromium picolinate (chromium chelated with picolinate, a naturally occurring amino acid metabolite). Picolinate enables chromium to readily enter into the body’s cells, where the mineral can then help insulin do its job much more effectively.
Chromium picolinate has been used successfully to control blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. A study was conducted to look at the benefits of chromium picolinate for patients with diabetes and heart disease; preliminary data shows it lowers blood sugar and cholesterol. It also promotes the loss of fat and an increase in lean muscle tissue. Studies show it may increase longevity and help to fight osteoporosis. In addition, when combined with biotin, chromium picolinate reduces insulin resistance and reduces “bad” (LDL) cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Chromium polynicotinate (chromium bonded to niacin) is an effective form of this mineral as well.
Chromium is found in the following food sources: beef, beer, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cheese, turkey, fish, and whole grains. It may also be found in dried beans, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, calf liver, chicken, corn and corn oil, dairy products, dried liver, dulse, eggs, green beans, mushrooms, and potatoes. Herbs that contain chromium include catnip, licorice, nettle, oat straw, red clover, sarsaparilla, wild yam, and yarrow.
If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you should not use chromium unless your health care practitioner prescribes it. Chromium supplements can make insulin function more effectively and, in effect, reduce insulin requirements. People with diabetes therefore have to monitor their blood sugar levels very carefully when using chromium. Chromium requirements differ from person to person; consult your health care provider to determine the correct amount of this mineral for you.
Some people experience light-headedness or a slight skin rash when taking chromium. If you feel light-headed, stop taking the supplement and consult your health care provider. If you develop a rash, either try switching brands or discontinue use.
Among its many functions, copper aids in the formation of bone, hemoglobin, and red blood cells, and works in balance with zinc and vitamin C to form elastin, an important skin protein. It is involved in the healing process, energy production, hair and skin coloring, and taste sensitivity.
This mineral is also needed for healthy nerves and joints. One of the early signs of copper deficiency is osteoporosis.
Copper is essential for the formation of collagen, one of the fundamental proteins making up bones, skin, and connective tissue. Other possible signs of copper deficiency include anemia, baldness, diarrhea, general weakness, impaired respiratory function, and skin sores. A lack of copper can also lead to increased blood fat levels.
Excessive intake of copper can lead to toxicity, which has been associated with depression, irritability, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, and joint and muscle pain. Ingesting a quantity as small as 10 milligrams usually causes nausea. Sixty milligrams generally results in vomiting, and just 3.5 grams (3,500 milligrams) can be fatal. Children can be affected at much smaller dosage levels.
Besides its use in cookware and plumbing, copper is also widely distributed in foods. Food sources include almonds, avocados, barley, beans, beets, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, garlic, lentils, liver, mushrooms, nuts, oats, oranges, pecans, radishes, raisins, salmon, seafood, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables.
Excessive copper in the body can promote destruction of eye tissue through oxidation. Persons with eye problems should be especially careful to balance their intake of copper with that of iron, zinc, and calcium. In one study, elderly individuals who consumed a high-fat diet, rich in saturated fat and trans fat, and had high copper intakes (greater than 1.6 milligrams per day), seemed to experience greater cognitive impairment compared to those who ate a diet low in these fats or a diet lower in copper (0.88 mg per day) with high amounts of these dietary fats. In this study, it was best to get copper from foods rather than supplements.
Germanium improves cellular oxygenation, but is not an essential nutrient. It helps to fight pain, keep the immune system functioning properly, and rid the body of toxins and poisons. Researchers have shown that consuming foods containing organic germanium is an effective way to increase tissue oxygenation, because, like hemoglobin, germanium acts as a carrier of oxygen to the cells. One study found that an intake of 100 to 300 milligrams of germanium per day improved many illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, food allergies, elevated cholesterol, candidiasis, chronic viral infections, cancer, and AIDS.
Germanium is found in all organic material, of both plant and animal origin. The following foods contain the greatest concentrations of germanium: broccoli, celery, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, milk, onions, rhubarb, sauerkraut, tomato juice, and the herbs aloe vera, comfrey, ginseng, and suma. Germanium is best obtained through diet.
Although it is rare, some individuals may have a toxic reaction to this mineral if they take it in excessive amounts. People have been known to develop kidney problems, and there have been some deaths associated with germanium. Speak to a health care professional before using it, particularly if you have kidney problems.
Needed only in trace amounts, iodine helps to metabolize excess fat and is important for physical and mental development. It is also needed for a healthy thyroid gland and the prevention of goiter, a grossly swollen gland rarely seen these days. Certain parts of the country have little or no iodine in the soil, and isolated agrarian cultural groups refrained from using iodized salt and cattle feed were subject to this disorder. Iodine deficiency in children may result in mental retardation. In addition, iodine deficiency has been linked to breast cancer and is associated with fatigue, neonatal hypothyroidism, and weight gain.
Excessive iodine intake (sometimes as little as 750 micrograms daily) may inhibit the secretion of thyroid hormone and can produce a metallic taste and sores in the mouth, swollen salivary glands, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you have any problem with your thyroid, speak with your physician about iodine. In most cases, however, the small risk of chronic iodine excess is far outweighed by the hazards of a low-iodine diet. It is especially important for women of childbearing age and children to get adequate amounts of iodine.
Foods that are high in iodine include dairy products (from cattle fed iodine-supplemented feed and salt licks), iodized salt, seafood, saltwater fish, and kelp. It may also be found in asparagus, dulse, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, sea salt (which provides nature’s own balance of minerals), sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard, and turnip greens. Most fruits and vegetables grown near the coasts contain more iodine than those grown inland.
Same foods block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland when eaten raw in large amounts. These include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, peaches, pears, spinach, and turnips. If you have an underactive thyroid, you should limit your consumption of these foods.
Perhaps the most important of iron’s functions in the body is the production of hemoglobin and myoglobin (the form of hemoglobin found in muscle tissue), and the oxygenation of red blood cells. Iron is the mineral found in the largest amounts in the blood. It is essential for many enzymes, including catalase, and is important for growth. Iron is also required for a healthy immune system and for energy production.
Iron deficiency is most often caused by insufficient intake. However, it may result from intestinal bleeding, a diet high in phosphorus, poor digestion, long-term illness, ulcers, prolonged use of antacids, excessive coffee or tea consumption, and other causes. Menstruating women may become iron deficient, especially if they have heavy or prolonged periods and/or short menstrual cycles. In some cases, a deficiency of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) or vitamin B12 can be the underlying cause of anemia. Strenuous exercise and heavy perspiration also deplete iron from the body. Strict vegetarians are susceptible to iron deficiency and should have regular blood tests to check iron levels.
Iron deficiency symptoms include anemia, brittle hair, difficulty swallowing, digestive disturbances, dizziness, fatigue, fragile bones, hair loss, inflammation of the tissues of the mouth, nails that are spoon-shaped or that have ridges running lengthwise, nervousness, obesity, pallor, and slowed mental reactions.
Because iron is stored in the body, excessive iron intake can also cause problems. Too much iron in the tissues and organs leads to the production of free radicals and increases the need for vitamin E. High levels of iron were once thought to be associated with heart disease and cancer. Newer data indicates that having high iron stores does not seem to predict who will get cancer but may predict who will get heart disease. However, ferritin, a protein in the body that binds to iron, was associated with an increased risk of cancer in women when the level was greater than 160 micrograms per liter.
The buildup of iron in the tissues has been associated with a rare disease known as hemochromatosis, a hereditary disorder of iron metabolism that is found mostly in men and postmenopausal women and that causes excessive absorption of iron from both foods and supplements, leading to bronze skin pigmentation, arthritis, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, and heart disorders.
Iron is found in eggs, fish, liver, meat, poultry, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals. Other food sources with lesser amounts include almonds, avocados, beets, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, dates, dulse, kelp, kidney and lima beans, lentils, millet, peaches, pears, dried prunes, pumpkins, raisins, rice and wheat bran, sesame seeds, soybeans, and watercress. Herbs that contain very small amounts of iron include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, dong quai, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, kelp, lemongrass, licorice, milk thistle seed, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, shepherd’s purse, uva ursi, and yellow dock. Foods are distinguished between heme iron (only from animal sources) and nonheme sources. The heme iron foods present iron in a form that is more readily absorbed into the body.
Do not take iron supplements if you have an infection. Because bacteria require iron for growth, the body “hides” iron in the liver and other storage sites when an infection is present. Taking extra iron at such times encourages the proliferation of bacteria in the body. Iron may cause constipation.
Magnesium is a vital catalyst in enzyme activity, especially the activity of those enzymes involved in energy production. It also assists in calcium and potassium uptake. A deficiency of magnesium interferes with the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses, causing irritability and nervousness. Supplementing the diet with magnesium can help prevent depression, dizziness, muscle weakness and twitching, and prementrual syndrome (PMS), and also aids in maintaining the body’s proper pH balance and normal body temperature.
Magnesium is necessary to prevent the calcification of soft tissues. This essential mineral protects the arterial linings from stress caused by sudden blood pressure changes, and plays a role in the formation of bone and in carbohydrate and mineral metabolism. With vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), magnesium helps to reduce and dissolve calcium-phosphate kidney stones, and may prevent calcium-oxalate kidney stones. Research has shown that magnesium may help prevent cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and certain forms of cancer, and it may reduce cholesterol levels. It is effective in preventing premature labor and convulsions in pregnant women. Studies have shown that taking magnesium supplements during pregnancy has a dramatic effect in reducing birth defects. A study reported that there was a 70 percent lower incidence of mental retardation in the children of mothers who had taken magnesium supplements during pregnancy. The incidence of cerebral palsy was 90 percent lower.
Possible manifestations of magnesium deficiency include confusion, insomnia, irritability, poor digestion, rapid heartbeat, seizures, and tantrums; often, a magnesium deficiency can be synonymous with diabetes. Magnesium deficiencies are at the root of many cardiovascular problems.
Magnesium deficiency may be a major cause of fatal cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and sudden cardiac arrest, as well as asthma, chronic fatigue and chronic pain syndromes, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and pulmonary disorders. Research has also shown that magnesium deficiency may contribute to the formation of kidney stones. To test for magnesium deficiency, a procedure called an intracellular (mononuclear cell) magnesium screen should be performed. This is a more sensitive test than the typical serum magnesium screen, and can detect a deficiency with more accuracy. Magnesium screening should be a routine test, as a low magnesium level makes nearly every disease worse. It is particularly important for individuals who have, or who are considered at risk for developing, cardiovascular disease. Muscle biopsies give a better picture of your magnesium status than blood tests do.
Magnesium is found in most foods, especially dairy products, fish, meat, and seafood. Other rich food sources include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, black-eyed peas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cantaloupe, dulse, figs, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, kelp, lemons, lima beans, millet, nuts, peaches, salmon, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, torula yeast, watercress, wheat, and whole grains. Herbs that contain magnesium include alfalfa, bladderwrack, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, lemongrass, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, sage, shepherd’s purse, yarrow, and yellow dock.
Minute quantities of manganese are needed for protein and fat metabolism, healthy nerves, a healthy immune system, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is used in energy production and is required for normal bone growth and for reproduction. In addition, it is used in the formation of cartilage and synovial (lubricating) fluid of the joints. It is also necessary for the synthesis of bone.
Manganese is essential for people with iron-deficiency anemia and is needed for the utilization of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin E. Manganese works well with the B-complex vitamins to give an overall feeling of well-being. It aids in the formation of mother’s milk and is a key element in the production of enzymes needed to oxidize fats and to metabolize purines, including the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD).
A deficiency of manganese (which is extremely rare) may lead to atherosclerosis, confusion, convulsions, eye problems, hearing problems, heart disorders, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, irritability, memory loss, muscle contractions, pancreatic damage, profuse perspiration, rapid pulse, teeth grinding, tremors, and a tendency toward breast ailments.
The largest quantities of manganese are found in avocados, nuts and seeds, seaweed, and whole grains. This mineral may also be found in blueberries, egg yolks, legumes, dried peas, pineapples, and green leafy vegetables. Herbs that contain manganese include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, lemongrass, mullein, parsley, peppermint, raspberry, red clover, rose hips, wild yam, yarrow, and yellow dock.
This essential mineral is required in extremely small amounts for nitrogen metabolism. It aids in the final stages of the conversion of purines to uric acid. It promotes normal cell function, aids in the activation of certain enzymes, and is a component of the metabolic enzyme xanthine oxidase.Molybdenum is found in the liver, bones, and kidneys. It supports bone growth and strengthening of the teeth. A low intake is associated with mouth and gum disorders and cancer. A molybdenum deficiency may cause impotence in older men. People whose diets are high in refined and processed foods are at risk for deficiency.
This trace mineral is found in beans, beef liver, cereal grains, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and peas.
Do not take more than 15 milligrams of molybdenum daily. Higher doses may lead to the development of gout.
Phosphorus is needed for blood clotting, bone and tooth formation, cell growth, contraction of the heart muscle, normal heart rhythm, and kidney function. It also assists the body in the utilization of vitamins and the conversion of food to energy. A proper balance of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus should be maintained at all times. If one of these minerals is present in either excessive or insufficient amounts, this will have adverse effects on the body.
Deficiencies of phosphorus are rare, but can lead to such symptoms as anxiety, bone pain, fatigue, irregular breathing, irritability, numbness, skin sensitivity, trembling, weakness, and weight changes.
Phosphorus deficiency is rare because this mineral is found in most foods, especially processed cooked foods and carbonated soft drinks. Significant amounts of phosphorus are contained in asparagus, bran, brewer’s yeast, corn, dairy products, eggs, fish, dried fruit, garlic, legumes, nuts, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, meats, poultry, salmon, and whole grains.
Selenium’s principal function is to inhibit the oxidation of lipids (fats) as a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. It is a vital antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. It protects the immune system by preventing the formation of free radicals that can damage the body. It plays a vital role in regulating the effects of thyroid hormone on fat metabolism.
Selenium has also been found to prevent the formation of certain types of tumors. One study found that men who took 200 micrograms of selenium daily over a ten-year period had roughly half the risk of developing lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer as compared with men who did not.
Selenium and vitamin E act synergistically to aid in the production of antibodies and to help maintain a healthy heart and liver. This trace element is needed for pancreatic function and tissue elasticity. When combined with vitamin E and zinc, it may also provide relief from an enlarged prostate. Selenium supplementation has been found to protect the liver in people with alcoholic cirrhosis. Studies indicate that taking supplemental selenium may enhance the survival of people with AIDS by increasing both red and white blood cell counts. It has shown promise in the treatment of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, male infertility, cataracts, AIDS, and high blood pressure. For very sick patients in the intensive care unit, selenium appears to reduce mortality rates. In one study, the death rate was 14 percent lower in those getting a high dose of selenium (1,000 micrograms a day). Selenium is incorporated into over twenty-five proteins, called selenoproteins, that play pivotal roles in a number of bodily activities, from activating thyroid hormones to regenerating vitamin C.
Selenium deficiency has been linked to cancer and heart disease. It has also been associated with exhaustion, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, infections, liver impairment, pancreatic insufficiency, and sterility. Some thought that selenium deficiency might be linked to a host of viral outbreaks, from new strains of influenza to Ebola, wrought by the rapidly mutating virus’s interaction with selenium-deficient hosts in places like Africa and China where there is little or no selenium in the soil.
Some have found selenium to be related to cognitive function. One study found that lower selenium content in fingernails was related to poorer cognitive function in a group of elderly Chinese. This finding supports the hypothesis that a lifelong low selenium level is associated with lower cognition.
Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts (the only truly concentrated natural source), brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, dairy products, dulse, garlic, kelp, liver, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, torula yeast, tuna, vegetables, wheat germ, and whole grains. Herbs that contain selenium include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginseng, hawthorn berry, hops, lemongrass, milk thistle, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, uva ursi, yarrow, and yellow dock.
Symptoms of selenosis (excessively high selenium levels) can include arthritis, brittle nails, garlicky breath, gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, irritability, liver and kidney impairment, a metallic taste in the mouth, pallor, skin eruptions, tooth loss, and yellowish skin. Unless your health care provider prescribes it, do not take more than 400 micrograms daily. One ounce of Brazil nuts can contain as much as 544 micrograms of selenium. If you take supplemental selenium, do not consume Brazil nuts. If you are pregnant, you should not take more than 40 micrograms of supplemental selenium daily, nor should you consume Brazil nuts.
Silicon is the second most abundant element on the planet (oxygen is the first). It is necessary for the formation of collagen for bones and connective tissue; for healthy nails, skin, and hair; and for calcium absorption in the early stages of bone formation. It is needed to maintain flexible arteries, and plays a major role in preventing cardiovascular disease. Silicon counteracts the effects of aluminum on the body and is important in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. It stimulates the immune system and inhibits the aging process in tissues. Silicon levels decrease with aging, so elderly people need larger amounts.
A seven-year study in French women showed that higher silicon intakes, primarily from drinking water, appeared to be protective against developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods that contain silicon include alfalfa, beets, brown rice, rice bran, rice hulls, whole and rolled oats, bell peppers, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains.
Sodium is necessary for maintaining proper water balance and blood pH. It is also needed for stomach, nerve, and muscle function. Although sodium deficiency is rare—most people have adequate (if not excessive) levels of sodium in their bodies—it can occur. This condition is most likely to affect people who take diuretics for high blood pressure, especially if they simultaneously adhere to low-sodium diets.
Some experts estimate that as many as 20 percent of elderly people who take diuretics may be deficient in sodium. In some cases of disorders such as fibromyalgia, studies have shown that moderate amounts of sodium may be needed as well (natural sea salt is recommended). Symptoms of sodium deficiency can include abdominal cramps, anorexia, confusion, dehydration, depression, dizziness, fatigue, flatulence, hallucinations, headache, heart palpitations, an impaired sense of taste, lethargy, low blood pressure, memory impairment, muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting, poor coordination, recurrent infections, seizures, and weight loss. Excessive sodium intake can result in edema, high blood pressure, potassium deficiency, and liver and kidney disease.
Virtually all foods contain some sodium.
An acid-forming mineral that is part of the chemical structure of the amino acids methionine, cysteine, taurine, and glutathione, sulfur disinfects the blood, helps the body to resist bacteria, and protects the protoplasm of cells. It aids in necessary oxidation reactions in the body, stimulates bile secretion, and protects against toxic substances. Because of its ability to protect against the harmful effects of radiation and pollution, sulfur slows the aging process. It is found in all body tissues, and is needed for the synthesis of collagen, a principal protein that gives the skin its structural integrity.
Brussels sprouts, dried beans, cabbage, eggs, fish, garlic, kale, meats, onions, soybeans, turnips, and wheat germ contain sulfur, as do the amino acids cysteine, cystine, and methionine. Sulfur is also available in tablet and powder forms. Methylsufonylmethane (MSM) is a good form of sulfur.
Vanadium is needed for cellular metabolism and for the formation of bones and teeth. It plays a role in growth and reproduction, and inhibits cholesterol synthesis. Vanadium has been shown to have the ability to improve insulin utilization, resulting in improved glucose tolerance. A vanadium deficiency may be linked to cardiovascular and kidney disease, impaired reproductive ability, and increased infant mortality. Vanadium is not easily absorbed. Athletes may require more of this trace mineral than nonathletes.
Vanadium is found in dill, fish, olives, meat, radishes, snap beans, vegetable oils, and whole grains.
This essential mineral is important in prostate gland function and the growth of the reproductive organs. Zinc may help prevent acne and regulate the activity of oil glands. It is required for protein synthesis and collagen formation, and promotes a healthy immune system and the healing of wounds. Zinc also enhances acuity of taste and smell. It protects the liver from chemical damage and is vital for bone formation. It is a constituent of insulin and many vital enzymes, including the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). It also helps to fight and prevent the formation of free radicals in other ways. A form of zinc called zinc monomethionine (zinc bound with the amino acid methionine), sold under the trademark OptiZinc, has been found to have antioxidant activity comparable to that of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Zinc lozenges have been reported to be effective in relieving symptoms of the common cold and reducing the duration of colds.
Sufficient intake and absorption of zinc are needed to maintain the proper concentration of vitamin E in the blood. In addition, zinc increases the absorption of vitamin A. For optimum health, a proper 1-to-10 balance between copper and zinc levels should be maintained.
A deficiency of zinc may result in the loss of the senses of taste and smell. It can also cause fingernails to become thin, peel, and develop white spots. Other possible signs of zinc deficiency include acne, delayed sexual maturation, fatigue, growth impairment, hair loss, high cholesterol levels, impaired night vision, impotence, increased susceptibility to infection, infertility, memory impairment, a propensity to diabetes, prostate trouble, recurrent colds and flu, skin lesions, and slow wound healing.
Zinc is found in the following food sources: brewer’s yeast, dulse, egg yolks, fish, kelp, lamb, legumes, lima beans, liver, meats, mushrooms, oysters, pecans, poultry, pumpkin seeds, sardines, seafood, soy lecithin, soybeans, sunflower seeds, torula yeast, and whole grains. Herbs that contain zinc include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, milk thistle, mullein, nettle, parsley, rose hips, sage, sarsaparilla, skullcap, and wild yam.
Do not take a total of more than 100 milligrams of zinc daily. While daily doses less than 100 milligrams enhance the immune response, doses of more than 100 milligrams can depress the immune system.