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For November 21, 2017

  • The Role Of Pyruvate In Weight Loss
    The Role Of Pyruvate In Weight Loss

    By DENNIS R. SPARKMAN, PH.D.

    Pyruvate is the last metabolite in the breakdown of glucose (glycolysis). In the past several years it has become available as a dietary supplement and nine well-controlled human studies have not only demonstrated that it is a safe dietary supplement, but that it has a host of functions that are beneficial to the human body. Among these are enhanced weight loss and fat loss, reduced weight and fat regain following a calorie restricted diet, increased exercise endurance, decreased perceived exertion. The problem with these studies was that they used pyruvate in amounts that ranged from 31 to 100 grams per day, which are impractical outside of a research setting. Now a study has looked at what the minimum amount of pyruvate that is necessary to achieve these results.

    Fifty-three individuals took part in a study where one group took 6 grams of pyruvate per day for six weeks and two other groups took either a placebo or nothing, respectively. Each group exercised for 30 minutes five times per week. Although there was no change in their absolute bodyweight, those who supplemented with pyruvate had a 12% decrease in percent bodyfat, lost 4.8 pounds of fat, gained 3.4 pounds of muscle, and had a 2.2% increase in basal metabolic rates. Additionally, they reported a 17.7% increase in vigor and 71% decrease in fatigue.

    According to previous studies in animals, scientists have been able to estimate that the minimum effective daily dose of pyruvate in humans is between three and six grams. Although the six grams per day used in this study is far less that the amounts used in previous studies, it is effective in helping to reduce bodyfat, increase lean muscle mass, as well as increasing vigor and decreasing fatigue during exercise.

    Colker C, Stark R, Kaiman D, et al. The effects of a pyruvate based dietary supplement on weight loss, body composition, and perceived vigor and fatigue levels in mildly overfat individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 (in press).

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  • Osteoporosis
    Osteoporosis
    Although most people think of osteoporosis as a disease of older Americans, steps to prevent it should begin early and continue throughout your life. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, a diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, along with limited alcohol consumption, is part of a healthy lifestyle that can prevent the onset of this disease.

    Calcium is perhaps the most important mineral in building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. It must be consumed from the diet, because the body does not manufacture it. If you have a calcium deficient diet, your body scavenges for the mineral, stealing it from your bones. Many people understand how important calcium is for children, because their bones are still growing. But calcium is also important for adults; the National Institutes of Health advises adult men to get 1,000 mg. of calcium per day, and 1,500 mg. per day for pre-menopausal women.

    Foods high in calcium include milk and milk products (low-fat and skim milks actually have slightly more calcium than whole milk), cheeses, sardines, salmon, Chinese cabbage, broccoli (especially fresh), soybeans, collards, turnip greens and tofu.

    Calcium absorption and excretion can be affected by what you eat. High caffeine foods, such as coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas, may deplete the body�s stores of calcium, and thus may promote bone loss. Diets high in protein and sodium also increase calcium excretion.

    Along with helping to build strong bones, vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D in two ways: from exposure to direct sunlight, or through your diet. There are relatively few foods which naturally contain vitamin D. Some good sources are egg yolks, liver and saltwater fish. However, many foods (including milk) are fortified with vitamin D.

    from John Hopkins Health
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  • Study: Foods rich in vitamin E offer some lung cancer protection
    Study: Foods rich in vitamin E offer some lung cancer protection

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A diet rich in vitamin E foods such as nuts and whole grains can lower the risk of lung cancer among smokers by about 20 percent, a new study says.

    In the study of more than 29,000 male smokers in Finland, researchers found that those who had high blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, the main form of vitamin E, reduced their incidence of lung cancer by 19 percent to 23 percent.

    The benefits were most dramatic, the study found, among men under age 60 and among light smokers who had been using cigarettes for less than 40 years. The reduction in lung cancer risk in these groups was from 40 percent to 50 percent.

    But despite the encouraging finding, said Dr. Demetrius Albanes of the National Cancer Institute, the most beneficial health action smokers can take is still the same: Stop smoking.

    "We have to emphasize that not only for lung cancer, but for oral cancer, pancreas cancer, kidney cancer and a bunch of other cancers, stopping smoking is crucial," said Albanes, the senior author of the study being published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

    In the study, which lasted for almost eight years, researchers took periodic blood samples to measure the levels of alpha-tocopherol, the most active form of vitamin E in humans. The levels of alpha-tocopherol were then linked to health outcomes among the men in the study. There were 1,144 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the group during the study.

    The lung cancer rate reduced among men with the highest levels of alpha-tocopherol, said Albanes, and the cancer protection was most pronounced among men with the shortest history of smoking who also had high vitamin E levels.

    Although the new study involved only smokers and lung cancer, earlier studies have shown that healthy levels of vitamin E give some protection against heart disease, stroke and some other types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.

    Albanes said the proven benefits came only from a balanced diet that included food rich in vitamin E, he said. The researchers drew no conclusions about the effect of vitamin pills taken by some of the men in the study.

    In effect, he said the proven benefits of vitamin E come from eating the right foods, not from popping vitamin pills.

    "We need more studies to compare supplements with natural diet sources of vitamin E," he said, noting that there are still uncertainties about the comparative value of vitamin pills vs. nutrients absorbed naturally from foods.

    For instance, some studies have shown that beta carotene, an antioxidant found in foods such as carrots, can help prevent some forms of cancer. Yet, when beta carotene pills were given to the group of Finnish smokers, the rate of lung cancer actually increased by 16 percent.

    Albanes said that vitamin E-rich foods include soybean oil and other seed oils; nuts, particularly almonds, filberts, hazelnuts and walnuts, sunflower seeds and whole grains, including wheat germ.

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  • Fat in America
    Fat in America

    �Breaking Bioethics� on our expanding waistline

    (By Glenn McGee, Ph.D. SPECIAL TO MSNBC) � Aug. 25 � It is always diet season in America, always time to squeeze into a dress or swimsuit. Americans are more overweight than any people of the world, and infinitely more obsessed about it. Ads for liposuction clinics keep local magazines afloat. And everyone knows someone who takes a diet drug, or who took fen-phen, or who abuses diet, herbs, exercise or laxatives in pursuit of a better body.

    MEN TOO are dieting in record numbers to meet an ever-more-fit male standard for health. And recent studies reveal that even young American children experience the throes of anorexia and bulimia, and more and more parents worry early about the fat baby. Discrimination against the obese has been documented so many times that litigation for it has become commonplace.

    We spend more than $10 billion annually on dieting, which fails to accomplish long-term results more than 99 percent of the time. Imagine a society that spends 300 times more on weight loss than on prenatal care, 1,000 times more on weight loss than on housing the homeless, and 6,000 times more on it than on physical education in our public schools.

    How we see our expanding waistline says a lot about us as a society. Being fat is expensive � food costs money, sedentary behavior is inefficient and reports continually document the long-term health risks of obesity. We could debate the fact that society as a whole supports the health cost of any of our risky behaviors � driving too fast, drinking alcohol, living on hurricane swept coastline. But who among us would pass a sin test for health insurance?

    VIRTUAL LIVING

    It is almost the year 2000 in the nation that boldly goes west. We are a people that explore, a people that welcome struggle, a people that think on our feet. We are the society that mastered technology and converted it into products and powers. But, as David Shenk chronicles in his exceptional new book, �The End of Patience: More Notes of Caution on the Information Revolution,� the technologies that seem to liberate us can create their own prison. Our lives are lived through virtual-this and artificial-that. We don�t go west to surf anymore. We do it from the sofa in Jersey. Most Americans get their exercise riding a stationary bicycle � a bike ride that never goes anywhere.

    Philosopher William James said human beings need the �moral equivalent of war.� When we are at peace, we rot. James said we need a struggle against an enemy and an urgent goal to keep us alive. His words inspired F.D.R. to create the CCC, an agency that built much of the nation�s new infrastructure of dams and bridges by putting Americans to work. His words inspired John F. Kennedy, who mentioned them in creating the Peace Corps. It is time for the moral equivalent of war. We are a people whose disease is not our obesity, but our lack of inspiration.

    GEEK HEROES

    Ours is a generation of geek heroes, men and women who changed the world by inventing plastic boxes that think for us. The Web you are surfing is the world we have created in their image. We want to live in that world but with the body of Mr. Atlas, the guy who kicks sand on Bill Gates at the beach.

    Get real. Weight loss is a stupid goal for virtually all of the American population. Weight loss has to be a byproduct of a change in the way we see life and living. It is time to put some of our diet money into innovative new ways to flourish that use our bodies and our minds. Our nation needs a new volunteer effort, to clean up the streets and build houses and fight fires and teach little kids to play soccer. The answer is surprisingly simple: advertising. Here�s the ad: LOSE 10 POUNDS NOW WITH UNIQUE HAMMER AND NAIL METHOD. The weight we lose might just be the chip on our shoulder.

    Glenn McGee is an associate director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His most recent book is �Pragmatic Bioethics.�

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  • Choosing The Best Fuel For Endurance
    Choosing The Best Fuel For Endurance

    By DENNIS R. SPARKMAN, PH.D.

    Most endurance athletes choose to consume a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, and some practice a strict vegetarian lifestyle. From a health standpoint, such dietary practices will both reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diminish the number of deaths from chronic disease. From a sports perspective, this diet will optimize the storage of muscle and liver glycogen, which can be used as a source of energy during training. Recently, some individuals have advocated the use of dietary fat supplements, or "fat loading," to spare glycogen stores and improve performance. The reasoning behind this is that fat appears to be such a perfect energy molecule.

    When fat and carbohydrates are compared, fat has several characteristics that would make it a great energy molecule. First, there is more than twice as much energy stored in a gram of fat (9 kcal) as a gram of carbohydrate (4 kcal). Since glycogen is highly hydrated, an equal amount of energy stored as fat weighs only 6-8% of what an equivalent amount of glycogen would weigh. Fat can also be stored as tiny droplets in close proximity to the muscle mitochondria where it is easily accessible for oxidation into energy. This oxidized fat also provides 1.3 times more energy per carbon molecule. Finally, after 15-20 minutes of endurance training, hormonal stimulation causes the body to burn more fat as an energy source.

    In this case, it could be reasoned that if fat is such an efficient energy substrate, eating more fat might cause the body to burn fat and spare muscle glycogen, thus increasing endurance. Some studies in rats have even supported this theory. In a perfect world, this might be the case, however, don't start eating potato chips for breakfast just yet. Nearly all human studies have shown that high fat diets can actually reduce glycogen stores and decrease performance. In one case, individuals were fed a diet consisting of 76% fat for four days. When they were asked to run until exhaustion, those who fat loaded reached exhaustion 40% sooner than those who didn't.

    The reason for this is that the body can't oxidize fat as well as it can glycogen during intense exercise. During exercise, only about 30% of our energy is derived from fats. Also, the oxidation of fat may produce more energy, but it requires 75% more oxygen. This puts greater stress on the cardiorespiratory system.

    Exhaustion during exercise is directly linked to glycogen depletion. When the muscle shifts over to fat burning when glycogen levels are exhausted, the ability to maintain intensity drops off 65%. Therefore, the only recommended supplementation for endurance runners is carbohydrate loading to increase muscle glycogen stores. For athletes training at high intensity, about eight-ten grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight should be eaten daily. Most studies have shown that athletes fail to get this amount of carbohydrates in their daily meals. Therefore, athletes should make up the difference by using a carbohydrate supplement before, during and after training to load, sustain, and replenish glycogen stores, respectively.

    Fat may be a perfect energy molecule in theory, but in the real world of exercise it can't live up to its potential. Besides, eating a high fat diet would certainly be disastrous to both your health and physique.

    Nieman DC. Carbohydrates or fats: which is best for endurance exercise? Veg Nutr 1997; 1: 17-21.

    CARNITINE BOOSTS POWER Carnitine has an integral role in muscle metabolism. It is responsible for the transport of fatty acids for oxidation and energy production within the mitochondria of muscle cells. When muscles are used, this can result in a deficit of carnitine and limit the amount of energy produced. A study has shown that supplementation with L-carnitine can prevent this deficit.

    When seven long-distance runners were given two grams L- carnitine per day, they found that their peak running speed increased by 5.68%, their heart rate slowed, oxygen consumption decreased, respiratory exchange ratios were lower and blood carnitine levels increased. These findings show that supplementation with L-carnitine positively affects aerobic capacity.

    Swart I, Rossouw J, Loots J, et al. The effects of L-carnitine supplementation in plasma carnitine levels and various performance parameters of male marathon athletes. Nutr Rev 1997; 17: 405-414.

    ANTIOXIDANTS PROTECT ACTIVE MUSCLES Supplementation with antioxidants is associated with a reduction in the number of oxygen free radical damage. One good example is the vitamin E-induced reduction in the oxidation of LDL, which greatly reduces the risk of coronary artery disease.

    It has now been shown that supplementation with 294 mg vitamin C, 1,000 IU vitamin E and 60 mg ubiquinone can protect muscles against acute exercise-induced lipid damage. The antioxidant potential of eight endurance athletes was measured after a 31 km run both with and without antioxidant supplementation. The supplementation increased the athletes' antioxidant potential of LDL and serum, and reduced lipid oxidation.

    The generation of oxygen-free radicals is increased during long periods of intense exercise; and, if left unchecked, can damage the lipid portion of the muscle cell's membrane. The daily supplementation with a cocktail of antioxidants will not only reduce this exercise-induced damage, it will also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Vasankari T, Kujala U, Vasankari T, et al. Increased serum and low-density-lipoprotein antioxidant potential after antioxidant supplementation in endurance athletes. Am J Clin Nutri 1997; 65: 1052-1056.

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  • Hypertension
    Hypertension
    Approximately one in four adults suffers from hypertension, or high blood pressure. Commonly called "the silent killer" because it often produces no symptoms, hypertension is responsible either directly or indirectly for about 900,000 deaths per year. It is a major risk factor in developing stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. There are several ways you can help prevent high blood pressure through your diet. Perhaps the most important way is to watch your weight--obesity is a key risk factor of high blood pressure. The best way to help prevent high blood pressure through diet is to stick to a low-fat, low-cholesterol regime. Alcohol consumption is second only to excessive weight as a predictor for hypertension. Doctors recommend no more than two drinks a day.

    Some studies also suggest that potassium-rich diets may reduce the risk of stroke if you are being treated for hypertension. One of potassium�s greatest benefits is its ability to rid the body of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium your body gets rid of--boosting your system which needs to keep sodium under control in order to keep blood pressure at reasonable levels. Although too much potassium can cause trouble, it�s almost impossible to overdose on this mineral if you�re getting it from food. You would have to eat the dietary equivalent of 21 baked potatoes every day to experience such negative effects as cardiac irregularities. That�s why naturally increasing potassium through diet is the best idea. An ideal potassium target is 3,500 mg--the Daily Value set by the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Along with increasing your intake of low-sodium, high-potassium natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, you should also reduce your intake of high-sodium, low-potassium processed foods. Good low-salt, high-potassium sources include dried beans, lentils and peas; fruit juices and fresh fruits, especially apricots, bananas, cherries, cantaloupes, honeydews, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, raspberries and tangerines; milk and yogurt (remember, you can get the potassium without the fat in skim and fat-free version); fresh vegetables, especially artichokes, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, collards, corn, mushrooms, parsley, parsnips, plantains, potatoes, pumpkins, seaweed, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts and squashes; and whole grains like rye, barley, buckwheat, wheat bran and whole-grain breads.

    There�s also evidence that magnesium and calcium may help to regulate blood pressure. Magnesium can be found in unprocessed whole grain foods, leafy green vegetables, nuts, fish and seafood, dried fruits and poultry. Strong sources of calcium include broccoli and raw cabbage, cooked collards, soy milk, milk and milk products (remember to choose skim or low-fat products), salmon, sardines, raw oysters and tofu.

    Although the issue of whether a high-salt diet causes or aggravates the onset of high blood pressure is still under debate, most doctors and nutritionists agree that Americans get too much salt in their diets: on average, we eat 2 teaspoons full of salt per day; our bodies need less than half a teaspoon. There is no question, however, that once hypertension develops, sodium is off limits. (Salt is about 40 percent sodium, and is our major dietary source of it.) Unfortunately, once you have high blood pressure, a moderate reduction of salt in the diet alone will not usually be enough to lower blood pressure back to normal levels. Along with medication, most doctors recommend a very low sodium diet for people with hypertension.

    Many high-sodium foods are obvious, such as salt-heavy pickles or potato chips. But reducing the salt in your diet is often more difficult than you can imagine, because only about a third of your salt intake depends on how heavy you lean on the salt shaker. Another third is added during the processing of foods, and the last third is found naturally in foods.

    Aside from the obvious high-salt content of foods like olives and sauerkraut, other high-sodium foods to avoid include biscuits and pancakes, pastries and cakes made from self-rising flour mixes, soy sauce, catsup, commercially prepared or canned soups and vegetables, bouillon, ham, sausages, bacon, hot dogs, smoked meats or smoked fish, canned tomato juice, frozen lima beans, frozen peas and fast foods. Also, many carbonated soft drinks are high in sodium; make sure you read the labels and check before drinking them. For example, club soda is fairly high in sodium�30 to 65 mg. per 8 ounces; cola contains about 15 mg. of sodium per 12 ounces; ginger ale has about 26 mg. of sodium per 12 ounces; and seltzer water contains 0 mg. of sodium. Most animal foods have a high content of natural sodium. Even when prepared without added salt, meat, fish, poultry, milk or milk products and eggs have high amounts of sodium and should be minimized

    From John Hopkins Health
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