Staving Off The Gagas – Booze & Dementia

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Staving Off The GagasOne of my earliest memories is of my 80-year-old grandpa belting down two shots of rock gut whiskey every morning before breakfast to stave off the “gagas”, which was his pre-Lady, non-scientific descriptor for dementia. And now science seems to be proving his point. The latest research buzz is a little bit of booze may help fight Alzheimer’s disease. That’s the news from a published report in the Journal Age and Aging, which recorded the results from a three-year study of non-Alzheimer suffering, 75-year-old subjects. Of the 3,202 people studied, it was found those who drank alcohol were 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than their tea-totaling colleagues. And it doesn’t seem like the type of alcohol drank was relevant, although all the subjects were imbibing moderately.

More than likely, the benefits attributed to indulging in the sauce have less to do with alcohol and more to do with the effects. Namely stress reduction and relaxation. This conclusion is supported by additional research released this month at the Max Plank Institute of Psychiatry in Munich where scientists found that increased production of stress hormones in rats led to the generation of Alzheimer associated proteins and ultimately memory loss.

The bottom line? Lighten up and relax. It’s good for your health. And if you like a little bit of the drink on a daily basis, don’t worry about it. If someone gives you a hard time, just tell them you’re practicing your own version of Alzheimer Reduction Therapy!

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Coconut Oil and the Miracle Lipid that Burns Fat

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of my favorite nutritional supplements are medium chain triglycerides. Generally referred to as MCT oil, this largely unrecognized supplement imparts numerous benefits. MCT oil was first introduced almost 60 years ago as a tool for treating lipid disorders. MCTs are metabolized without bile and go directly to the liver where they are processed into a source of fuel. Thus they provide a good source of easily metabolized energy for patients with liver disease, gall bladder issues, those with bile deficiencies and other health compromised patients.

Coconut OilThey’re so effective that they’re the fuel of choice for hospitalized patients being fed intravenously in intensive care units. And MCTs may provide circulatory benefits too. A 2008 study published in The American Journal of Physiology found that MCT intake in rats with high blood pressure improved their cardiac function and structure.

Perhaps the most significant role MCTs provide for good health is in the realm of weight loss. Diet conscious health enthusiasts can benefit from MCTs unique metabolic chemistry in three ways. First of all, MCTs provide drive lipid biochemistry with 10 per cent fewer calories than ordinary fat. Secondly, MCTs are rapidly converted into energy. This means that they are much more likely than other fats to be uses as a source of fuel, rather than being stored. In this manner they function more like carbohydrates than fats. Yet, in contrast to carbs, they have no significant effect on insulin. This makes them an ideal source of energy for diabetics. Thirdly, unlike ordinary lipids, MCTs have been shown to increase thermogenesis (fat burning), which may result in an actual loss of calories.

In addition to providing weight reduction benefits, MCT oils have neurological enhancing properties. The fascinating fats been shown to increase the production of “ketones” which may provide benefits for senescent brains. Ketones are known as a potent and stable non-sugar source of energy to the brain. This makes MCT oils an ideal alternative brain fuel source for elderly and neurologically impaired patients, as well as diabetics (who are a much higher risk of age-related cognitive impairment), all of whom must be wary of the deleterious effects of sugar.

These unusual lipids have also been shown to increase the phospholipid levels in the brain which may provide additional cognitive benefits. And, interestingly, a 2009 study from the University of Toronto Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology found that supplementation with medium chain triglycerides improved the cognitive function in dogs and increased the level of omega-3 s in the parietal lobe of the brain, the section associated with the mental decline seen in human patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

Perhaps the most important food source of MCT oils is coconut oil. Besides being a wonderful ingredient for cooking, over half of the fats in this tasty oil are MCTs. If being used for its MCT content, a typical daily dose of coconut oil would be 2-4 tablespoons a day. Diabetics or Alzheimer’s patients can may want to take twice that much.

Occasionally, some patients find that coconut oil causes some stomach distress. Thus, when starting a coconut oil regimen, it’s probably best to start off using ½ to 1 tablespoonful a day and gradually work yourself up to a final 2-8 tablespoonful daily dose. Sometimes digestive discomfort from coconut oil can be alleviated by taking it with food. Other sources of MCTs include butter and palm kernel oil. Pure MCT oil is also readily available as a nutritional supplement in health food stores.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Cell Membrane Goo is Good!

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The body’s most critical control point for the manifestation of health or the lack thereof is a microscopic slice of biochemistry that is hardly ever addressed by mainstream medicine. It’s about 10 thousand times thinner than a human hair and it’s called the cell membrane. Not the cell mind you, but the nanoscopic flexible and intelligent (!) covering that surrounds it.

Cell MembraneNow in order to understand the significance of the cell membrane to the health of the body, we really have to use our right brain imagination skills and paint a picture in our minds eye. So think of a grape. That grape is going to be our imaginary cell. Except the grape we’re talking about is actually an intelligent life-form. Our grape/cell is an actually a little animal. A miniature animal that eats and excretes, makes proteins, has a nervous system and a digestive system, reproduces and fights off enemies and even thinks (processes information).

So picture a little grape-like blob. The circles you see on a piece of paper in a high school biology textbook that represent a cell are 2 dimensional representations. In reality a cell is a little blob, but if you looked at it without a high resolution microscope you probably couldn’t tell that it has a third dimension that makes it 3D, grape-like blob, not a circle. And this little blob is a universe of countless components, about ¼ the thickness of a human hair that has more working parts than a Boeing 747!! And, they are highly integrated parts, interacting with each other on countless parallel levels, meaning there are an infinite amount of simultaneous chemical reactions happening on the order of tens of thousands up to hundreds of thousands PER SECOND!!! A typical cell has something like 6 million working parts, all of which are communicating to each other instantaneously, on a parallel level that’s incomprehensible to our silly human heads (that are too busy with important stuff like Herman Cain, Obama and The Simpson’s and the Kardashians). And these 6 million parts are self-repairing and self adjusting. T hey are by definition “smart parts”.

Cell Membrane Goo is GoodNow this entire enchilada of parallel processing working parts is all covered by a skin, called the cell membrane. Just like the skin on our grape. The only difference between the skin on our grape and the skin that is a cell membrane is that the cell membrane is gooey. And this gooey quality is super important for cell health. Gooey is good!

Goo by its very nature creates the potential for smart. This is a very interesting biochemical phenomenon. The harder and more stiff a material is, the less potential it has for information processing. You notice our brain is gooey, it’s not solid. In fact, as it becomes less gooey with age it becomes less healthy. Alzheimer’s disease for example is associated with multiple hardenings of the brain’s goo which are technically called “plaques”.

The reason goo is smart is because it has an almost infinite different types of shapes it can take, that’s what makes something gooey, you can’t measure dimensions on it, because it always changing shape, that’s what goo is. Technically the shapes are called “conformations” and whenever somethings gooey it has infinite conformations. So, too put it simply: goo means flexibility and flexibility means information processing (smart). On the other hand, solidity means non-flexibility and non flexibility means non-information processing (dumb). To the cell and the body, Goo = smart AND solid = dumb.

Now in reality a biological structure like a cell or its membrane is NOT completely gooey. It will have certain structural components that make it, in actuality, partial goo or“semi-goo”. Remember, goo processes information. One of the ways information processing can be observed is in electrical (energy) conduction. So, our semi-gooey cell membrane is conducting energy. But only through its gooey part not it’s solid part. Because the energy can only flow through the semi-goo, the energy which flows, which is CONDUCTED, is actually only “semi-conducted”. So in essence goo is a SEMI-CONDUCTOR. Now what else can act like a semiconductor? A computer chip. In fact, all a chip is, is a semi conductor. So goo can act like a chip in a computer. Goo can act like an information processing system. But the goo needs be organized somehow (it’s only partial goo). You need organized goo NOT random goo. And nowhere in entire universe do we have a goo structure, that is as exquisitely architected and nano-organized as as a cell membrane. This skin, that coats the incredibly organized and synchronized internal milieu is itself structured with a profoundly deep and awe inspiring complexity that makes it a living breathing, self repairing and self adjusting computer chip. And, it plays a significant role in determining the health and condition of the inner cosmos of a cell.

So, the gooey cell membrane is where the action is in the disease process. Disease is largely about breakdowns in the cell membrane. Aging is largely about breakdowns in the cell membrane. And, many issues with hormone activity are largely about breakdowns in the cell membrane. Fortunately, cell membrane health can be regulated, in large part by decisions, lifestyle choices that we make involving food and nutrition. We’ll address those in a coming post.

-Health and the lack thereof always involves cells.
-Cells are 3D grape-like blobs, even though we represent them on paper as 2D circles.
-Cells are covered by a gooey membrane .
-The gooey membrane acts as an information processor, a veritable computer chip!
-The gooey, “smart” membrane plays an important role in determining how healthy the inner environment of a cell will be.
-In large, part maintaining cell membrane health involves healthy lifestyle choices.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health