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Entries in nutrition (3)

Sunday
Feb092014

The Importance of Vitamin C

In my "Bladder & Pelvic Floor Health" class I always expound the importance of vitamin C because it is involved in so many metabolic processes, making appropriate levels essential to optimal health. How much is appropriate is debated but I generally recommend at least several thousand mg per day. In the past several years studies have shown that vitamin C intake is also important in preventing diseases of aging such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and atherosclerosis.

Much of the research has focused on the role of increased dietary nonheme (not derived from hemoglobin) iron intake and disturbed iron metabolism due to mutated genes. [1]  Excess iron catalyzes the production of free radicals, plays a role in lipid peroxidation and can lead to deposition and neurodegeneration. Normally excesses pass through the digestive system. A leaky gut or a disruption in absorption may occur due to another pathogensis and allow the excess iron to pass into the bloodstream. This risk is much higher for people who have low vitamin C intake. Most of the excess dietary nonheme iron came from fortified cereals. [2] [3]

This begs the question of what levels of vitamin C these studies consider to be low. Various organizations recommend anywhere from 40mg/day to 100mg/day. [4] Most practitioners agree that these levels are enough maintain life, but not sufficient to maintain optimal functional health. It also highlights the importance of combining iron intake with that of vitamin C; vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron. Those foods high in nonheme iron (leafy greens and cruciferous veggies) are typically also high in vitamin C.  Mother Nature knows. Cereal manufacturers, on the other hand, don't fortify with vitamin C.

Excess dietary copper has also been implicated in Alzheimer's. [5] 

The pathogenesis of these diseases of aging is still unknown but one can conclude that taking mineral supplements is unnecessary (for well-fed Westerners) and possibly risky. Taking measures to keep your gut healthy (eating fermented foods, taking probiotics, following a gluten-free diet if you're diagnosed as celiac) may prevent a leaky gut from allowing over-absorption of minerals. A healthy lifestyle will protect against pathological genetic expression. And finally, the antioxidant vitamin C has been shown, many times over, to be protective against these diseases. Take much vitamin C.

 

Sunday
Sep152013

Snacks: sunflower seeds (again)

An herbalist turned me on to this one--sunflower seeds for adrenal exhaustion. Raw or roasted, it doens't matter. He says he's not sure how they work their magic (probably all that iron & protein), but there you go.

 

Thursday
Jul122012

Curious Connections: low back & knees

There are oh-so-many ways that the low back and knees are connected. One that has been catching my attention of late is that people who complain of chronic low back pain invariably have grainy, mealy, lumpy, unhealthy soft tissue on the popliteal fossa (backs of the knees). In the middle of the popliteal folds (transverse crease of popliteal fossa, to be precise) is Bladder 40 (UB40, Wei Zhong), a potent acupoint for low back pain. How did the ancient Chinese physicians make this connection? There are many theories and beliefs about how acupuncture came to be. But I wonder if perhaps some physicians, who were more focused on manual modalities and the cadaver studies done at the time, noticed this difference in the tissues and that perhaps this contributed to the discovery of the acupoint.

Tissues reflect the health of the structures with which they are related. Often these are contiguous (next-door or adjacent) structures, but sometimes these structures are related through their fascial connections (like the low back & knees). It is through these fascial connections that tissues can, in turn, influence the health of other organs and structures in the body. It goes both ways. So keeping the tissues healthy through hydration, nutrition, massage, manual therapies, skin brushing, etc is important to overall health of the internal organs.