In lowering cholesterol, this is a category where more and more patients are looking for natural alternatives, given the knowledge of what statins can do. As with glucose and weight management, eating breakfast and eating more times per day, less food per meal is preferred over irregular meals, skipping meals or eating infrequently.
Plant sterols have repeatedly shown to lower total cholesterol levels. LDL is lowered although HDL and triglycerides are not affected as much. Preparations include powders that can be used in shakes, smoothies, soups, stews, pasta sauces and general cooking. Functional foods are available for this purpose as well.
Flavones, flavanols and flavonoids could have been included in any discussion for anti aging and inflammation/disease prevention. I have chosen to include it with cholesterol reduction. Flavanoids, like our previously mentioned quercetin, are antioxidants and are a prime example of why it’s not so much the cholesterol level that’s the most important more than what happens to that cholesterol that causes long term problems. Oxidized LDL causes damage to blood vessels that starts the formation of a plaque that can break away and cause a myocardial infarct. This is why good antioxidant support is so important in preventing heart disease and defeating the downstream effects of high cholesterol.
Niacin has long been recognized by physicians to lower ldl cholesterol although triglicerides may increase with this therapy. Still it is widely used for high cholesterol.
Lecithin, providing polyunsaturated fatty acids is also shown to reduce elevated cholesterol levels.
As mentioned, increased cortisol levels can contribute to central obesity. This is a major cause of the typical body shape Western Society. Credit card bills, jobs, Standard American Diet, lack of exercise, relationships, loved ones’ deaths, frequent respiratory tract infections, frequent travel, financial issues and other causes of stress, combined with excessive carb intake contribute to central obesity.
Those with low serotonin often present with chocolate and sweets cravings. 5-HTP 50 mg bid without food can benefit this condition.
For those with low dopamine, symptoms such as cravings for fatty foods (cheese, nuts, chips, and alcohol) can result. L-Tyrosine can be helpful here with 500 – 1000 mg twice daily without food.
Acetyl-L-Carnotine aids in burning fat, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) facilitates weight loss and reduces the deposition of additional fat cells in existing fat, omega 3 helps lose adipose tissue and reduces appetite,
Of course it always comes down to calories in and calories out. Lots of theories abound as to why some find it impossible to lose weight while others seem to eat what they want and remain thin. This is one of the reasons I found it necessary to research a program called Ideal Protein – not a high protein diet as the name suggests, it depletes glycogen in the first few days and preferentially burns fat for energy and preserves lean mass (something a body composition analyzer verifies each week as the patient returns for evaluation). The science behind this plan is impressive and it’s the only “weight loss plan” I endorse and deals specifically with all aspects of Metabolic syndrome.
Natural Sleep Aids
Lack of sleep has been proven to cause long term health problems, from inflammation, weight gain and even cancer. Sleep is our first focus for patients. Ingredients like hydrolyzed casein, 5-htp, magnolia, chamomile, passion flower, valerian, hops and lemon balm are all ingredients helpful for sleep. For melatonin, I recommend at bedtime if you wake in the middle of the night or at mid evening if you have trouble getting to sleep. Another common cause I see for lack of sleep is glucose regulation issues. Avoiding refined carbs in the evening can be helpful.
Natural Digestive Aids
Quite often I see people take acid suppressing medications either OTC or on Rx . These patients were probably put on them for heartburn or indigestion. A few were put on them for ulcers – typically a six week process according to the drug companies that make these medications. As we get older it is normal to produce less acid. This has a number of effects on the body. First, a low acid content tends to open the sphincter that closes the junction between the stomach and the esophagus. A high acid content closes this over. As well a low acid environment will result in delayed or even incomplete digestion of food. This acid is also responsible for activating enzymes to digest the food. Imagine being on an acid lowering drug indefinitely; for years. This is the case for most who take acid lowering medications. This results in less than 100% digestion of food. What happens downstream from this is incomplete absorption of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Mg, Ca and B12 are commonly the first to drop off. When something that is partially digested is small enough to get absorbed, the body reacts to it like a virus. There is no gate keeper to restrict this movement into our circulation especially when GI function is compromised like this. The change in pH allows unwanted bacteria into the gut and can take over our normal friendly flora. This causes more systemic inflammation which is a risk factor for several diseases including cardiovascular, diabetes, eczema, asthma and so on. There is a heightened immune response that causes a cascade of mediators to all cells of the body, including the nucleus of the cells. We tell our DNA how to express themselves, not the other way around, and this unfriendly environment around the cells becomes the mediator to genetic expression that causes unfavorable results.
All of this from lowering the acid content of the stomach!! Instead of lowering acid levels, I give Betaine HCl with each meal to ad acid to the stomach (assuming there is not an ulcer present). Also helpful are digestive enzymes that help breakdown the food and a broad spectrum probiotic that varies month to month to replenish as many strains as possible of friendly bacteria in the gut. This probiotic helps with digestion. A prebiotic is also useful to give the bacteria a friendly environment in which to grow. For those in need of gut repair – which is pretty much anyone, I give glutamine, an amino acid essential for gut repair. Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root is another well studied product in gut health and ulcer repair. Also used in gut repair is glutamine, an amino acid that is also used to help decrease recovery times after surgery.
So, there are lots of keys to unlocking the antiaging lock. Just talk to someone that knows their preventative medicine.