Monday, December 17, 2007

L-Carnitine for Energy, Cognition & Lean Muscle Mass

L-carnitine is in the news again for helping boost energy, cognition, and also lean muscle mass in the elderly. I think I qualify in just under three years, when I turn 50, so I pay attention to these studies more and more, even though the recent study was done on centenarians (yes, folks over 100).

In the December 2007 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the following results were reported, with a conclusion that l-carnitine may be "conditionally essential" for some people:

"Compared with the placebo group, the subjects who consumed the L-carnitine supplements showed the following significant improvements over the course of the study: decreased fat mass (–1.8 compared with 0.6 kg), increased muscle mass (3.8 compared with 0.8 kg), reduced physical and mental fatigue, and improved cognitive functions. Supplementation resulted in increased concentrations of carnitine in plasma but not in urine. There were no negative effects reported in any of the additional blood chemistries that were analyzed."

L-Carnitine. It was one of the ingredients I had to cut from Constant Health. I wish I could have kept everything in one formula, but cost and formula size were limiting factors.

I'm working on a second protein powder formula with all the stuff I couldn't fit in Constant Health (with a mix of eye, joint, brain, and skin protectors). It should mix nicely with Constant Health, as there won't be any of the pungeant and peppery herbs and spices in the Constant Health formula.

L-carnitine will be among the ingredients in the new powder formula.

Meanwhile, we do have L-Carnitine in capsules for those of you who like to mix and match (consider 2-4 capsules daily).

Bacterial Balance of Power

Newsflash headline: Key Enzyme In Gut Prevents Inflammation In Zebrafish In Response to Gut Microbiota

University of Oregon (UO) scientists discovered that an enzyme long assumed to be involved in digestion instead is a detoxifying traffic cop, maintaining a friendly rapport between resident gut bacteria and cells.

A deficiency of an enzyme, unpoetically called "intestinal alkaline phosphatase" or "Iap," appears to change the bacterial balance of power in the gut. Without enough healthy Iap enzymes, an unfriendly endotoxin, called "lipopolysaccharide" or "LPS," takes over in the gut. One of the most abundant sources of LPS in vertebrates is the bacteria in their gut.

The UO Study implies that more Iap creates gastrointestinal health, while more LPS creates more chronic diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.

According to Karen Guillemin, a professor of molecular biology at UO:

"We've shown that the bacteria that reside in our gut play an active role in modulating our immune response to them and help to prevent excessive inflammation," said Guillemin, who is a member of the UO's Institute of Molecular Biology. "There exists a give-and-take mutual co-existence of our resident bacteria and the cells of our gut."

It's a little known fact that there are more than 10 times the number of bacterial cells as human cells in a human body and they weigh over a kilo (over 2 pounds!) in the average person.

According to Jeffrey Gordon, director of the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University: "Genetically, we are more microbe than human." Talk about balance of power!

Gordon and his colleagues are studying how the suite of bacteria in a given adult's gut may be contributing to obesity, as some bacteria help convert energy in food more efficiently to fat than others! Egad!

Whether you're worried about inflammatory diseases in your gastrointestinal tract (my older brother had Crohn's and my dad had problems with his GI tract at the end) or gaining weight over the holidays (wouldn't that be all of us?), those little bacteria in the gut will weigh in with their trillions of members.

I confessed in an earlier post that I often forget to take my Probiotics 16, as they are best taken a half-hour before eating and I'm not the best planner. I'm making an early New Year's resolution to increase the balance of power in my own gut toward the "friendlies."

Weird. I just noticed that the song I'm listening to as I finish this post is "Get the Balance Right" by Depeche Mode. Okay, I'm listening, I'm getting it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Exercise, Wound Healing & Scientific Vibrations

According to a University of Illinois study in the American Journal of Physiology, moderate exercise helps wound healing in the elderly:

“The key point of the study is that moderate exercise sped up how fast wounds heal in old mice,” said researcher K. Todd Keylock, who noted that the improved healing response “may be the result of an exercise-induced anti-inflammatory response in the wound.”

The U. of I. study caught my interest because my mom is still healing from a stage IV wound from her terrible fall in October. I'm forever after her to take more walks and go for longer walks, mostly to improve her muscle tone and balance, but now I can share that exercise will also help her wound heal faster.

The researchers at U. of I. and Bowling Green are still unclear about why exercise helps heal wounds more quickly (e.g., some theorize that exercise adds more oxygen to a hypoxic wound site).

I worked with a personal trainer for a few months last year, experimenting with doing squats, weight lifting and balancing exercises on a vibrating disk called the Power Plate. I enjoyed the experience, which left me feeling like I had really worked out and also just gotten a massage. But it was too expensive to do regularly, so I went back to regular treadmill stuff at the gym.

As an aside, my gym just got a vibrating exercise machine (I haven't inspected up close to know what kind). You have to "pay by the session," so I haven't been inclined. Funny, gym management is worried about limiting demand, but I never see anyone on that thing.

Anyway, here's a condensed promotional blurb from the Power Plate site (with my highlights):

"Power Plate has become an important training and injury/rehab device for the Chicago Bulls...and has demonstrated impressive results (in)...strength, flexibility, metabolism and circulation...(and) has proved to be a good remedy to soreness and pain reduction, while accelerating the injury / rehab cycle."

It makes sense that cells in a wound get stimulated by the increased blood flow and oxygen from moderate exercise, much as a river's health is stimulated with steady waterflow and oxygenation. Anyone who has ever maintained a fish tank knows this dynamic.

However, something more could also be going on.

There are many stories about the healing power of vibrational energies, ranging from how cats' purring heals bones and muscle injuries to therapies like Johrei, a non-invasive energy healing practice from Japan that has received NIH funding. And, yes, there are enough bad web sites on the power of vibrational energy to make skeptics wince.

It will be interesting to follow the research on specific vibrational frequencies for healing and also how popular vibrating exercise machines will actually become.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Inflammation: An Internal Global Warming

Global warming. It's a bad thing, whether you think it's a man-made or a natural cyclical phenomenon. I think we're exacerbating whatever is happening naturally, but I don't want to talk politics just now.

Instead, there's another kind of global warming, an internal global warming called systemic inflammation, that I'm interested in. It's when we're exposed to ongoing inflammatory response that gets out of control and wreaks havoc inside our bodies.

Internal global warming turns the heat up -- initially to fight off infection or to bring healing blood flow to a specific location in the body -- and then leaves the thermostat on high, essentially cooking delicate tissues that become ever more damaged with ongoing exposure to "the heat."

Inflammation is at the root of most chronic diseases: arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimers. These days, just about everyone needs to worry about inflammation.

So, what to do? The list is pretty simple, but not so easy, because some lifestyle changes are required (as with reducing those greenhouse gases):
  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of veggies and fresh fruits, garlic, plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (fish from cold waters); good oils like those from olives, nuts, and avocados; and include anti-inflammatory spices like ginger and turmeric.
  2. Avoid bad fats, refined sugars, and starchy processed foods in your diet, as they all contribute to "the fire within."
  3. Fight free radicals that cause inflammation with a good antioxidant formula (vitamins A, C, E but also bioflavonoids, like quercetin (found in onions), polyphenols like anthocyanins (from blueberries and grapes), and alpha lipoic acid.
  4. Avoid toxic environments and pollutants, which can set off the inflammatory response.
  5. Do moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more at least 5 times a week.
  6. Reduce stress and get enough sleep, as too much stress and not enough sleep can amp up your body's cortisol levels, which contribute to overall inflammation levels.

The building next door is being gutted for new loft-like condos, and Tess has been having more trouble with her sinuses, and we've both been scratching our eyes and sneezing at work of late.

We think there's something bad from this very old building being stirred up (hopefully it's not asbestos), and we're both interested in detoxifying our systems during this time.

Tess plans to go on Dr. Rodier's detox diet in the New Year, and she also plans to invite a gaggle of Co-op members to do the same in a support group, complete with a teleseminar with Dr. Rodier and a blog that she keeps to record her (and others) progress, along with fielding questions and sharing anecdotes.

If you're interested in fighting inflammation, detoxifying your system, or just doing something extra to boost your overall health, consider joining Tess. Write to her at!