Monthly Archives: June 2011

All About Alpha-Lipoic Acid

I’m always trying to learn about the latest and greatest in antioxidants, and lately I’ve been all about some Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA).  This  antioxidant is made naturally in the body and is contained in every cell to help covert glucose to energy.  ALA neutralizes a variety of free radicals and is  particularly beneficial for people with diabetes who have higher levels of free-radical damage (destruction of healthy cells) as well as higher sugar levels.

Here are a few more benefits of ALA:

  • Regenerates vitamins C and E
  • Helps maintain the proper ratio of Coenzyme Q10 in the mitochondria of the cells
  • Repairs oxidized proteins, preventing DNA damage
  • Replenishes glutathione (the body’s own detoxifier), which is reduced with aging and exercise
  • Helps curb carbohydrate/sugar cravings
  • Helps balance blood sugar
  • Metal-chelating activity (helps detoxify heavy metals from the body)
  • Can reduce pain, tingling and numbness in those with diabetes-related nerve damage
  • Protects brain and nerve tissue (Animals treated with ALA suffered less brain damage and had a four times greater survival rate after a stroke than animals who did not receive this supplement.)

Unlike other antioxidants that work only in water (like vitamin C) or in fat cells (like vitamin E), ALA is both fat- and water-soluble, so it’s a whole body antioxidant.

Small amounts of ALA are found in foods like peas, spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, Brewer’s yeast, rice bran and organ meats.

In order to really get the therapeutic dose of ALA (1200 mg per day), I recommend taking it as a supplement.  My favorite brand is the ALAmax CR by Xymogen because the controlled-release technology improves the efficacy of the ALA and helps to maintain blood sugar over a longer period of time.  This formula also includes Biotin, which supports the function of ALA in regulating glucose metabolism.

ALAmax CR is designed to neutralize free radicals before they can cause damage to your cells.

If you or someone you know struggles with diabetes, blood sugar balance or sugar cravings, or you just need a high-powered antioxidant to combat stress, aging and regular exercise, then ALA might be the right nutritional supplement for you.

Let me know if you have any questions about ALA and it’s benefits.

Happy SUMMER!

What’s pH got to do with it?

Remember learning about the pH scale in science class?  That was pretty much the last time I gave any thought to acidity vs. alkalinity, that is until I started studying nutrition.  It turns out that many of the most prominent diseases in our society often come down to one thing, pH imbalance.

Almost every patient that walks through our door at Longevity is too acidic.  This dangerous condition is called acidosis, and it weakens all the body’s systems.  You can think of it like this – bad things grow in acidic environments, things like free radicals, cancer cells and other antigens.  However, a body with a balanced pH allows for the normal function necessary for disease resistance.

In the words of Dr. T.A. Baroody, Jr, in his book Alkalize or Die, “Acidosis is the basic foundation of all disease.  We need to understand the simple process of alkalizing our body and the important role a properly alkalized body plays in restoring and maintaining our overall health. Our glands and organs function properly in exact proportion to the amount of alkaline and acid levels in our system.”

So before I go any further, let’s break down the pH scale, a.k.a let’s have a little 7th grade science refresher! pH (power of hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a given solution.  It’s measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  The lower the pH (below 7), the more acidic the solution, and the higher the pH (higher than 7), the more alkaline the solution.

The body is composed of positively charged ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming), and it continuously strives to balance pH.

Just to clarify, when I say we shouldn’t be too acidic, I’m not talking about the stomach environment.  In fact, our stomach should be so acidic (ideally a pH of 1.5 to 3) that if we poured out its contents on a rug, it would burn a hole right through it! Urine pH should fluctuate between 6.0 and 6.5 in the morning and 6.5 to 7.0 in the evening.  Saliva pH should stay between 6.5 and 7.5 all day.

When our systems become too acidic, it forces our bodies to steal major minerals like magnesium and potassium from our bones and vital organs in order to buffer the acid and remove it from the body.  Here are some of the problems that result:

  • Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to the growth and spreading of cancer cells
  • Low energy/chronic fatigue
  • Premature aging
  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular stress – constriction of blood vessels, reduced oxygen
  • Kidney/bladder issues, such as kidney stones
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Bone Loss, brittle bones, bone spurs, Osteoporosis
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Digestive dysfunction
  • Yeast overgrowth

Unfortunately, acidity leads to more acidity.  Pathogens create acidifying toxins in the body. As the body becomes more and more acidic, bad bacteria, yeasts and other toxins multiply in the body. Since these organisms are living, they feed off of and create more acidic toxins, and the cycle continues.

So what can we do to prevent acidosis?  The answer is cleaning up our diet and lifestyle.  The standard American diet is high in acidic foods like red meat, dairy, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol and refined carbohydrates.  (Need yet another reason to avoid soft drinks?  They are extremely acidic!) Most of us aren’t getting enough of the more alkalizing foods, like fresh vegetables, whole grains and high-quality fats.

For a more complete list of the most acid and alkaline foods, check out these Acid and Alkaline Food Charts.  Remember, it’s not that all acidic foods are bad.  For example, many fruits are more acidic, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat them, it’s just that we have to stay well hydrated and also eat plenty of alkalizing foods to keep our system in balance.

If you’re not good about eating vegetables throughout the day, consider juicing, doing a green drink or throwing some greens into a morning smoothie.  One way or another, it’s crucial to get these highly beneficial vegetables into your system!

Greens like kale, spinach and kelp are extremely alkalizing...eat up!

Sports drinks, coffee, juices and other high-sugar and high-caffeine beverages are highly acidic.

Another tip for treating acidosis is to drink about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the mornings.  I like the Braggs brand because it’s organic and unpasteurized.

If you’re battling cancer, candida overgrowth, chronic fatigue syndrome, or any of the other health issues I mentioned, it’s time to start balancing your pH.  Even if you don’t have any health problems, but just want to eat a cleaner diet for wellness and prevention, an alkalizing diet is a fundamental place to start.   You’ll look and feel so much better.

Stay alkaline my friends!


A Taste of the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet, which is associated with decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, emphasizes lean and green eating and the use of high-quality fats and whole grains.

Olives are a staple of the Mediterranean diet.

Try these recipes for Mediterranean staples, tabouli salad and hummus.

TABOULI INGREDIENTS (Makes 6 cups):

  • 1/2 cup medium grain bulgur
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 4 cups roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Bring water to a boil, pour in bulgur, stir, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand 20  minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and bulgur is fluffy and tender.
  • Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a large salad bowl, toss together parsley, mint, tomatoes and green onions. Add bulgur and pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to combine.  Serve and enjoy!   Hint: It helps to use a food processor to chop up the parsley and mint very finely.

Tabouli salad is so colorful, light and refreshing!

The great thing about tabouli is there are so many fun ways to switch it up.  You can add some onion, garbanzo beans or diced cucumbers.  Some recipes call for more bulgur and less of the veggies and herbs, but we like to keep this dish light and not super starchy.  If you’re gluten-free, you could exchange the bulgur for quinoa.  Tabouli is great as a side dish, or you can throw it in a pita with things like hummus, feta cheese, olives and grilled chicken.

ROASTED GARLIC HUMMUS INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb dry garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 2 tablespoons tahina
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head of roasted garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Soak garbanzo beans overnight in water. Drain and rinse beans.  Cook beans on low in crock pot for 8-10 hours or until soft.  Drain beans, saving 1-2 cups of the broth. (To save yourself this step, just buy the canned garbanzo beans!)
  • To roast garlic, cut the top off of a head of garlic so that all of the cloves are exposed.  Place in oven safe dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Place in a 350F oven for 45-60 minutes.
  • Puree garbanzo beans in food processor or blender.  Add broth, about 1/2 cup or until consistency is smooth.
  • Add lemon juice, tahina, olive oil, and garlic to the puree and mix in well.
  • Add salt to taste.  Feel free to add more broth, tahina and olive oil until the hummus is just how you like it.  Serve and enjoy!

Make your own Mediterranean platter at your next party!

If you’re not a big garlic fan, you can feel free to skip it.  Hummus is also great with roasted red pepper, olives or a little feta cheese. This one is garnished with garbanzo beans and cayenne pepper.

I hope you give these SIMPLE recipes a try.  Do you have any Mediterranean-inspired dishes in your recipe arsenal?