Search Term: " Desroyers "
The A Team
June 14, 2005 06:04 PM
The A Team
by Gregory Meade Energy Times, October 11, 2004
Want the A Team playing to improve your health? When you accumulate enough antioxidants to help you attack the molecular marauders out to mar your well-being, you improve your chances of avoiding illness.
Nowadays you hear plenty of talk about the benefits of antioxidant nutrients. Antioxidants are the ammunition the body uses to fight off internal damage. They offer the body the means to fight against disease but, at the same time, your body must be in the position to use them optimally. That means getting enough sleep, consistently exercising and avoiding overly processed foods. Those lifestyle habits allow your body to garner its resources and effectively implement antioxidants in its quest for well-being.
Your body has a love-hate relationship with oxidation: Can't live without it, often has trouble living with it. For instance, the production of energy in your cells requires oxidation. But the byproducts of that process, problematic molecules called free radicals, have to be chemically changed or eliminated to avoid the damage that results when they interact with other parts of the cell. Left unchecked, these molecular troublemakers can wreak havoc, oxidizing and punching holes in cell membranes and damaging other structures they contact. Antioxidant nutrients are used to defend against oxidation, quell these harmful destroyers and limit the potential harm they can cause.
For a quick glimpse of one of your basic antioxidant defenses, look in the mirror. The color in your eyes represents antioxidant protection against oxidative injury from the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Sunlight's energy sets loose free radicals every time it enters the lenses in your eyes. Pigments absorb this radiation and, in most cases, render it harmless.
As part of your vision's defenses, two of the antioxidant pigments in your food, lutein and zeaxanthin, are deposited by your body in certain areas of your eyes-in a section called the macula as well as the lens (BJ Opthalmol 1998; 82:907-10).
Lutein and zeaxanthin are classified as carotenoids, chemical relatives of beta carotene, the antioxidant pigment that makes carrots orange, and lycopene, the anticancer red coloring found in tomatoes. These fat-soluble nutrients are also present in algae. In both your eyes and plants, these nutrients absorb the destructive ultraviolet rays that give birth to free radicals.
Studies show that consuming large amounts of these pigments lowers your risk of a common form of blindness called age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and drops your chances of age-related cataracts. (More than 30 million people worldwide suffer from ARMD, and cataracts is the leading cause of blindness across the globe.)
When the sun's rays enter the eye, lutein and zeaxanthin absorb and filter out dangerous radiation before it can injure the macula. The macula is the central part of the retina that allows us to see very fine detail. Otherwise, over time, as the macula deteriorates, our vision worsens. In addition, some researchers believe these nutrients help lower your chances of cancer.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in spinach, Brussels sprouts, corn, collard greens, green beans, egg yolks, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, kiwi and honeydew melons. The petals of yellow flowers like marigolds and nettles are also rich in these antioxidant nutrients.
You can also increase your chances of better sight as you age by consuming sulphoraphane, an antioxidant found in broccoli. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that sulphoraphane takes part in the body's efforts to shield eye cells from free radicals generated by ultraviolet light (Proc Natl Acad Sci 2004; 101(28):10446-51).
The researchers who performed this study believe that unlike the antioxidant nutrients vitamin C and natural vitamin E, sulphoraphane acts as an "indirect" antioxidant. That means that while those two vitamins are used by the body to directly defuse the harmful oxidative force of free radicals (and then must be replaced or regenerated in the cells), sulphoraphane acts indirectly, boosting the body's immunity defenses. Because of that indirect action, researchers point out, sulphoraphane lasts longer in the body and may produce a more profound, long-term antioxidant effect.
In other laboratory tests, researchers have discovered that sulphoraphane can kill Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium recognized 20 years ago as the cause of debilitating stomach ulcers and often-fatal stomach cancers (Proc Natl Acad of Sci 5/28/02). This research shows that sulphoraphane is even effective against antibiotic-resistant Helicobacter. Adding to its benefits, sulphoraphane can help kill bacteria both inside and outside stomach cells; when this bacteria hides inside of cells it is particularly difficult to fight.
" We've known for some time that sulforaphane had modest antibiotic activity," says Jed Fahey, a plant physiologist at Hopkins. "However, its potency against Helicobacter, even those strains resistant to conventional antibiotics, was a pleasant surprise."
Looking for Mr. Good Diet
For the biggest bang for your antioxidant buck, combine antioxidants with good lifestyle habits. A laboratory study of the heart-healthy effects of taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins C and natural E along with L-arginine (an amino acid) found that exercise magnifies benefits (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 5/24/04, online). The scientists who performed this study recommend exercise along with antioxidants to boost your nutritional advantage.
The box score shows that when playing with the A Team you've got the best chance of hitting an antioxidant home run.
June 10, 2005 03:24 PM
by Henry Wolfe Energy Times, July 11, 2003
Nutrients do you no good if you don't absorb them. Eating the right stuff and taking the right nutrients can still be wrong if they never make it out of your digestive tract and into your bloodstream.
For instance, dietary supplements usually should be taken along with food. The presence of food in the digestive tract aids the absorption of nutrients. As a general rule, if you take dietary supplements on an empty stomach, most of their contents will probably pass through you and never escape your intestinal tract before they are eventually eliminated. This is particularly true for the fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D and E. By consuming fatty foods when you take these supplements, you enable your body to absorb a large amount of these valuable substances.
But there is at least one exception to this rule: Amino acid supplements (protein building blocks) should usually be taken on an empty stomach. Otherwise the other amino acids present in your meal may interfere with your use of these nutrients and counteract the benefits of the supplements.
The Standardization of Herbs
Taking herbs presents different challenges than consuming dietary supplements. While the chemical structures of nutrients in supplements are usually precisely identified, the active ingredients in herbs is usually a mixture of chemicals. Often, too, researchers disagree on exactly which active ingredients in herbs produce the health benefits linked to these botanicals.
But in an effort to derive the most from these substances, many experts recommend what are called standardized forms.
Standardized herbal supplements are formulas that have been created to insure they contain consistent and reliable amounts of certain beneficial chemicals that scientists have identified in these plants.
In the creation of these supplements, experts determine the standardized chemicals that are most likely the basis of the herbs' effectiveness.
By standardizing certain of the supplements' ingredients, therefore, standardized herbs limit the variation among batches of the product. You can rely on the fact that every purchase will contain the same amount of ingredients taken from the original plant. According to Michael Janson, MD, author of Dr. Janson's New Vitamin Revolution (Penguin/Avery), "Although herbs have a long history of use for medicinal purposes, it is only recently that they have been analyzed to reveal their most active components. These active chemicals are commonly present in very variable amounts in herbs, depending on where and how they are grown, soil quality, when they are harvested, the amount of rain and sun, and other factors.
"Standardized herbs have guaranteed specific amounts of the known, active herbal components, as well as the other factors that might be of help but are not as well studied" (www.drjanson.com).
Herbalists who specialize in using entire plants in their practices can recommend non-standardized preparations that you can often use.
In general, that kind of herbal use is more effective when you secure expert advice. If you lack access to an experienced herbalist and you're choosing botanicals on your own, standardized preparations are easier to take.
Absorption From the Gut
Most of the nutrients you take in are absorbed through the walls of your digestive tract. This most often takes place in the small intestine.
What to watch out for: Fast food, fast living and long work hours afflicts our digestion and can disrupt proper absorption. You have to be relaxed to properly absorb the nutrients in your food and supplements.
Consequently, the occasions for meals should be relaxed and enjoyable moments. Set aside enough time to appreciate, taste and thoroughly chew your food. Adequate digestion and absorption begin in your mouth.
Another way to increase nutrient absorption is with the use of digestive enzymes. Since the digestive tract depends on the enzymatic breakdown of food that reduces nutrients to absorbable form, taking enzymes can help your intestines make better use of nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract. Normally, enzymes are present in raw food, like uncooked fruits and vegetables. Since most of our food is eaten after it is heated, a process that breaks down enzymes, not many enzymes are present in today's diet. Therefore, taking supplemental enzymes may increase absorption.
Beyond everyday stress, a variety of problems can make absorption go astray, allowing important nutrients to escape and permitting unwanted substances to enter the body. For instance, a significant digestive malfunction that many experts have focused on in recent years is a condition that has come to be called "leaky gut."
As Anil Minocha, MD, director of digestive diseases at the Mississippi Medical Center and author of Natural Stomach Care (Avery), points out, "In a healthy individual, the wall of the intestinal tract is designed to absorb food molecules and prevent harmful microorganisms and toxic materials from passing out through the bowel wall and into the bloodstream. "In today's heavily polluted environment, the gastrointestinal tract of even the healthiest individual is called on to process an overwhelmingly large flow of septic and infectious materials."
Because of these digestion destroyers, as we take in a startlingly large amount of viruses, bacteria, toxic chemicals, fungi and processed foods, our digestive systems are often overwhelmed and are rendered unable to perform their tasks correctly. This constant assault on the stomach and intestines takes a serious toll. A frequent product of this process is the digestive walls' loss of their crucial ability to keep out unwanted toxins and organisms as they become, in Dr. Minocha's words, "loosened and inflamed." As a result, instead of keeping out harmful substances and absorbing helpful nutrients, spaces open up that begin to allow in "bulky, partially digested food particles, toxic substances and infectious microbes."
According to Dr. Minocha, the first signs of this absorption problem can include complaints such as allergic reactions, skin problems, joint pain, digestive difficulties, nausea, fatigue and lack of energy.
To improve your digestive absorption, Dr. Minocha recommends a six-part program that includes these steps:
* Detoxification by means of fasting and avoiding harmful items like sugar, over-processed foods, coffee and alcohol
* Taking herbs that can help the digestive tract heal, recover and repair itself; these include garlic, ginger and milk thistle
* Replenishing the beneficial bacteria of the digestive tract by eating yogurt
* Keeping track of your daily diet and eliminating foods that cause allergies and other reactions
* Consuming more fruits and vegetables while eating a high-fiber, mostly vegetarian diet
* Developing consistent, healthy lifestyle habits; these include not smoking, cutting the size of your meals and eating in moderation, exercising several times a week and controlling stress
Young and Old Digestion
The nutrients in your diet can also beneficially influence the state of your digestive system and its ability to distinguish among substances that are supposed to gain entrance to your body and those that should be kept out. Since aging can further compromise the discriminatory ability of your gut, Dr. Minocha also recommends a steady diet of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables plus supplements to keep your digestive tract functioning at full capacity as you grow older.
Among the nutrients he recommends:
* Coenzyme Q10: By middle age, your body makes less of this powerful antioxidant that helps cells generate energy in the mitochondria (structures within cells that may decrease with age).
Dr. Minocha notes that research demonstrates CoQ10 may be able to help people with diabetes control harmful metabolic byproducts that appear in their bloodstreams.
* Natural Lycopene: This antioxidant, responsible for the red of both tomatoes and watermelon, has been shown to lower the risk of both heart disease and prostate cancer. As an antioxidant, natural lycopene also helps protect the digestive tract.
Absorption of the proper nutrients may be the key to health for many people. By paying closer attention to the well-being of your digestive tract and practicing lifestyle habits that promote maximum absorption, you may be able to substantially improve your nutrition and your health.