Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT- Thoughts on Nutrition from Dr. Brueck MD

Another in a series of insightful blog messages from Fort Myers Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Robert. J Brueck MD FACS


Today, we are faced with a constant barrage about what to eat.

We have people tout this supplement/these organic fruits and vegetables/antibiotics free chicken and the new miracle vitamin drink or potion. There are things that we consume and things that we apply/all the new skin creams guarantee to remove our wrinkles, our age spots, our fine lines.

You get my point. I was never one for supplements but now I take several every day. Do I look 40-years-old again, no. Do I feel 30, no. But I think it can help our overall well-being in ways that we cannot feel or be able to quantify.

I was fortunate to read an article recently that talked about five simple supplements to aid longevity. I guess it’s our never ending quest for the fountain of youth like Ponce De Leon. These five supplements supposedly help you live to 100, maybe even more, who knows? Only the good Lord knows the answer to that.

They can only aid and benefit your body.

These five supplements have been shown to have a beneficial effect on your body. They are usually consumed with a daily meal and over a long period of time. I would suggest that you might call your primary care physician to get his or her approval before embarking on this journey. You never know if these may interfere with a medication you are taking for high blood pressure or the like.

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE: This is an amino acid that has a key role in cellular metabolism. This substance helps brain function as well. It can also protect the heart and liver. Sometimes this substance is used to treat diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, numbness and tingling that many diabetics feel in their extremities. Usually the dose is 500-2000 mg a day.

FOLIC ACID: This is a synthetic form of Folate as a member of the vitamin B family. This is often found in green leafy vegetables (love my spinach!)

This is important because it helps regulate gene expressions for the prevention of heart disease and some forms of cancer and certain neurological disorders. The recommended dose is 800 mcg [micrograms, not milligrams; important difference - When I was in medical school I read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a Chili recipe that was oh-so-good that inmates at a prison in Texas actually wanted to extend their stay in prison. They did this only because they wanted to continue the chefs magically, wonderful, special chili. Boy, I thought this has to be something awesome. I couldn’t get the pots and pans out quick enough. The recipe was lengthy which told me it was indeed “special”. assembled all the ingredients and the masterpiece was finished and consumed that night by myself, my roommate and some of my Episcopalian priest friends who were living at the Bishop-Anderson Foundation, where I lived during my second year of medical school. Needless to say we all enjoyed the unique taste of this miracle chili. The next day we got together and we were having a cup of coffee and we all seemed to relate to some type of nocturnal GI complaints. As I listened to their comments I wondered why and I reviewed the recipe in a contemplative way trying to figure out what could have gone wrong. All of a sudden my eyes fixated on 5 cloves of garlic. I paused, thought back to my day of preparation and remembered how I painstakingly prepped, peeled and squashed five balls of garlic. So, micrograms is not milligrams. Just beware.

CO-ENZYME Q-10: Found in high concentrations in the mitochondria of the cells. The mitochondria produce the energy for our cells to function. Having sufficient levels of this substance helps to protect our mitochondria from the effects of age Co Q-10 diminishes. This is important for maintaining normal heart function, treating certain types of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

LIPOIC ACID: To many this is the ultimate antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals that attack and injure normal cells. Sun damage, for example, produces free radicals to cause our skin to become wrinkled, dry, leathery, cracked, thin and the like. The usual dose of Lipoic Acid is 150 mg per day but when used to treat heart disease and diabetes one may need up to 600 mg a day.

DHEA: These letters stand for Dehydroepiandrosterone. As we age, levels decrease significantly. A lack of this hormone causes us to have dry skin, thinning hair, muscle weakness, diminished libido and many other malady’s that effect us. The dosage that we normally start at is 10 mg.

When I look back over the years of practicing plastic surgery and medicine in general I am amazed at how far we have come in the science of nutrition. As a medical student at the University of Illinois I remember receiving a small monograph from Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company on vitamins. That was then and what we have now is far more advanced, more meaningful and more substantive in improving the quality of our lives. As they say we have come a long way. Maybe there is more to the saying – We Are What We Eat.

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