Summer is Here … Protect Your Skin from the Inside Out

Summer is Here ... Protect Your Skin from the Inside OutExcessive sun exposure can lead to premature aging of the skin; which means more wrinkles and discolorations. Although topical sunscreens remain the top choice of consumers, there is a new oral method for protecting your skin … Polypodium leucotomos.

Much has been written about how the sun’s burning ultraviolet rays harm our health and appearance. Yet despite the warnings, more than two million people in the US will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year alone. Rates of melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer — have not only doubled over the past 10-20 years, but continue to rise 3% to 7% annually.1

A recent study found that a new oral supplement sourced from the fern, Polypodium leucotomos, could potentially become an important anti-aging ingredient for the skin.2  Extracts from the fern have been used in South America for many years to protect against the damaging effects caused by excessive sun exposure.

This amazing fern also protects skin cells from the consequences of excessive ultraviolet radiation by reducing sun-induced injury.3 Additionally, it helps ease skin inflammation and blocks protein-destroying skin enzymes.3,4

Polypodium leucotomos extract also contains a high percentage of potent antioxidants (phenolics) which block the formation of dangerous free radicals and the oxidative damage that results from excessive sun exposure.5

Remember, for long periods of sun exposure, you should defend your skin against premature aging with an oral extract from Polypodium leucotomos and a topical sunscreen to ensure complete sun protection.

References

  1. Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/470300_2. Accessed May 3, 2010.
  2. Philips N, Conte J, Chen YJ, et al. Beneficial regulation of matrixmetalloproteinases and their inhibitors, fibrillar collagens and transforming growth factor-beta by Polypodium leucotomos, directly or in dermal fibroblasts, ultraviolet radiated fibroblasts, and melanoma cells. Arch Dermatol Res. 2009 Aug;301(7):487-95.
  3. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2006 Mar 1;82(3):173-9.
  4. J Dermatol Sci. 2003 Jun;32(1):1-9.
  5. Ann Intern Med. 1971 Dec;75(6):873-80.

Ageless Skin from a Pill? A Secret to Save Your Skin from Accelerated Aging

By Steven V. Joyal, MD

Stopping  Heart DiseaseYou want flawless, smooth skin.

You don’t smoke, you drink plenty of water every day, and you eat a diet low in refined starches and sugars. You consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts, and flax seed. You apply expensive skin cleansers and moisturizers that promise ageless, beautiful skin. Of course, you’ve heard about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and the veritable explosion in cases of diagnosed skin cancer within the past decade, so you are prudent when venturing outdoors. You wear sunscreen whenever you go to the beach or spend extended time outside, wear a broad-brimmed hat, and minimize time spent during earth’s peak period for solar radiation (generally between 11AM and 3PM in late spring,  summer, and early fall). You obtain the benefits of vitamin D from supplementation with low-cost cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) as well as ingesting foods (e.g. salmon, mushrooms) rich in this critical hormone-vitamin rather than subjecting your skin to age-accelerating solar radiation.

However, do you guard against incidental solar radiation?

Most people are completely unaware that over 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs unintentionally. Furthermore, those unsightly brown and tan age spots that occur on exposed areas of the skin are caused by accumulated sun exposure over many years.

Unless you never the leave the house if not slathered in high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen or make-up, ultraviolet radiation is aging your skin (not to mention increasing your risk of skin cancer). And don’t think that just because you use a so-called “long-lasting” topical sunscreen that is “water-proof” you’re safe – close scrutiny of scientific data reveals that although newer sunscreen formulas offer enhanced resistance to the effects of sweat and swimming, these topical formulas must be re-applied frequently for maximal protection.

However, an amazing, natural plant extract, when orally ingested, offers the promise of additional protection against the damaging effects of incidental solar radiation exposure with a strong scientific portfolio of evidence.

Polypodium leucotomos is a type of fern native to certain tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas such as Honduras. Experimental studies with extracts of polypodium leucotomos have shown potent antioxidant effects. Other experimental studies show that Polypodium leucotomos extract reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemicals that damage tissues when produced in excess. For over thirty years, extracts of Polypodium leucotomos have been used in Europe, Central, and South America to protect against the damaging effects of skin sensitizers and ultraviolet light therapy for the treatment of patients with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition characterized by silvery plaques on the skin. A clinical study showed that psoriasis patients’ skin had significantly less damage from ultraviolet light when these volunteers were given an extract of Polypodium as compared with those study volunteers given placebo. Another clinical study in patients with vitiligo (a skin condition characterized by areas of unsightly skin color mottling) showed improvement in areas of skin depigmentation when treated with ultraviolet light and 250 mg. three times daily of Polypodium leucotomos extract compared with placebo.

Make no mistake – supplementing with Polypodium leucotomos extract will not protect your skin from sunburn if you decide to spend ten hours at Fort Lauderdale beach after hibernating indoors for three months of winter. However, this natural ingredient is a wonderful adjunct to an over-all skin saving regimen that helps preserve youthful skin tone and texture. Although Polypodium will not reverse the appearance of heavily sun damaged skin, this fern extract offers the promise of lessening the impact of incidental sun exposure, now and in the future, on our skin. Since about 80% of our lifetime accumulated sun exposure is incidental, Polypodium extract represents a breakthrough strategy in the form of a dietary supplement that can help guard our skin from accelerated aging.

How to maintain healthy blood sugar with four supplements

How to  maintain healthy blood sugar with four supplements
Dietary intervention targets the underlying causes of high blood sugar and is a key step towards protecting yourself against the damaging effects caused by high blood sugar.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar combats blood sugar spikes after meals. Minimizing sugar spikes helps to restore insulin sensitivity…the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

One study by Italian researchers showed that when healthy subjects consumed 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with a meal, there was a 30 percent reduction in their glycemic response, or rise in blood sugar. Reducing your glycemic response is essential for beating diabetes.

2. Lipoic Acid

Glucose (blood sugar) destroys insulin receptors. Without the receptors, insulin can not work. Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant that protects insulin receptors.

Recently, researchers revealed dramatic effects in improving insulin sensitivity in overweight adults suffering from type 2 diabetes. The antioxidant produced significant improvements in just four weeks.

Lipoic acid is also effective in treating diabetic neuropathy, which is characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities. A large, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter, double-blind study involving 328 patients with type-2 diabetes revealed that it significantly improved symptoms.

Life Extension suggests taking 200 to 300 mg/day of R-lipoic acid (the “R” form is more potent).

3. Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a potent antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress. Diabetics experience a high degree of oxidation that causes cellular damage.

CoQ10 is required to convert fats and sugars into cellular energy. Yet, the natural production of CoQ10 declines in diabetics. The best form of CoQ10 to supplement with is called ubiquinol. This form is easily absorbed and significantly increases blood levels.

Life Extension suggests taking 200 mg/day of ubiquinol CoQ10.

4. Pyridoxamine

The pyridoxamine form of vitamin B6 protects the body’s proteins from glycation. Sugar (glucose) in the blood can bind to proteins, particularly when blood levels are high. This binding causes the formation of dysfunctional proteins, which accumulate with time and contribute to some of the signs of aging.

Scientific research suggests that if you want to help protect your body against glycation, nutrients that help prevent the formation of AGEs may be beneficial. The latest information shows that pyridoxamine may also be of significant help in preventing the formation of these aging molecules.

In fact, one prominent antiaging doctor described pyridoxamine as “the most potent natural substance for inhibiting AGE formation.” By preventing AGE formation and working as a coenzyme in chemical reactions, pyridoxamine can support healthy nerve, eye, cardiovascular and kidney function.

Life Extension suggests taking 50 mg/day of pyridoxamine.

Resveratrol May Reverse Arterial Aging

Resveratrol

“Atherosclerosis is reversible” is not a phrase we expected to hear from mainstream medical researchers until very recently—since these are the precise opening words of a remarkable editorial about resveratrol that appeared in a recent issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Just as astonishingly, the editorial was written by a renowned immunologist, Linda K. Curtiss, PhD, of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. The fact that an immunologist is writing about cardiovascular disease in a trend-setting medical journal speaks volumes about how far we have come in our understanding of chronic diseases and their relationships with inflammation, which is an immune system phenomenon. What truly sets Dr. Curtiss’s article apart, though, is her description of a dramatic new phenomenon mediated by the grape polyphenol resveratrol.

Curtiss’s excitement comes from work done by Cleveland Clinic cell biologist Young-Mi Park, MD, who was exploring the role of oxidant stress and inflammation on the pathogenesis, or disease-causing mechanisms, of atherosclerosis. Knowing that fat-laden inflammatory cells called foam-cell macrophages trigger inflammation when they become trapped beneath the lining of blood vessels, Park’s team sought to understand why the cells become trapped, and how they could be freed from their “endothelial bondage,” thereby reversing the inflammatory process.

The most natural approach to take, Park’s group decided, was simply to test known antioxidants’ ability to prevent the foam cells from migrating into the endothelial lining in the first place, and their ability to release any cells that were already present. Specifically, they studied how oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) promotes foam-cell formation and impairs migration. To do this they blocked LDL oxidation with several potent antioxidants. They found that oxidized LDL actually triggered production of a sort of cellular “glue” in the form of filaments of actin, one of the proteins also found in muscle tissue. The actin filaments were entangling the foam cells, preventing their natural migration out of the endothelial lining, leading to progressive inflammatory changes.

Park’s group chose resveratrol as one of the two antioxidants to test—another testimony to the respect that mainstream researchers are according this remarkable molecule (the other was N-acetylcysteine, also an antioxidant available in supplement form). Resveratrol treatment of the foam cells inhibited production of reactive oxygen species by greater than 90%, an important first step in breaking the cycle. Even more impressively, resveratrol supplements partially restored the foam cells’ ability to move out of the entangling actin filaments, and migrate away from the endothelial lining!

This brings us back to Dr. Curtiss’s astounding initial observation that atherosclerosis is a reversible condition—through the use of powerful antioxidants such as resveratrol, we can now understand how oxidized LDL contributes to invasion of endothelium by inflammatory cells, and how prevention or reversal of LDL oxidation promotes mobilization of inflammatory cells and their emigration away from vessel linings.

As Dr. Park concluded, “[these studies] also provide additional mechanistic support for the atheroprotective effect of antioxidants.” Resveratrol is already well-known as a cardiovascular protective supplement—the work of Park and others is now showing us that resveratrol must also be considered a valuable cardiovascular therapeutic supplement, one that can literally “turn back the clock” on chronic vascular diseases of aging!

Nutritional Strategy for Preventing Colon Cancer

A nutritional strategy for preventing colon cancer is as easy as 1-2-3!

#1–Polyphenols

Polyphenols are plant-based nutrients loaded with powerful antioxidants. Toxins, like pesticides, enter our bodies from the foods we eat and damage the cells lining the colon wall. If the toxins damage the cells DNA this can lead to cancer.

A diet rich in plant-based polyphenols (antioxidants) prevents the cellular damage caused by food toxins. High concentrations of polyphenols are found in:

1. Red Grapes & Buckwheat

Red grapes and buckwheat are loaded with polyphenols. One in particular, called resveratrol, protects the colon by activating DNA-protection genes. Eat whole grain breads fortified with buckwheat. Freezing red grapes is a nice cold treat on hot summer days.

I also suggest supplementing with a whole grape extract containing 50-100 mg of resveratrol.

2. Green Tea

Drink green tea! It’s load with ECGC, another powerful polyphenol. Laboratory studies have shown that green tea may inhibit colonc cancer growth. The problem is that you would have to drink 15 to 20 glasses a day. Instead, take a supplement of green tea with high levels of ECGC.

#2–Herbs & Spices

Herbs and spices have been used for centuries to support digestive health. Colon cancer research has recently uncovered amazing protective effects with the turmeric spice and garlic:

1. Turmeric Spice

The active nutrient in turmeric is called curcumin. Add turmeric to soups, marinades, pastas, eggs, and meats. It has a subtle sweetness and nutty flavor.

If you have a family history of colon cancer, consider supplementing with a turmeric extract that contains 200-400 mg of curcumin.

2. Garlic

Cooking with garlic not only tastes good but also protects the cells lining the colon. I add garlic to just about everything I eat. But that’s probably not enough.

A high quality supplement containing 20-30 mg of allicin, the most important part, is the only way to fully benefit from garlic.

#3–Vitamins & Minerals

All the vitamins and minerals are important for disease prevention. However, the two big ones are listed below:

1. Vitamin D

In 1990, the peer-reviewed medical journal, Lancet, was the first to link vitamin D to the risk of developing colon cancer. They reported that you are 5 times less likely to develop colon cancer with high blood levels of vitamin D.

They also noted that relying on sunlight and dietary sources for vitamin D wasn’t enough.

The conclusion was to supplement with vitamin D. Most people will need to take around 2000 units/day. Check a blood level first and than talk to your doctor about the right dose for you.

2. Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral found in legumes and nuts. In 2004, the University of Arizona found that people with high blood levels of selenium had a 34% less chance of developing colon cancer.

But it’s hard to get enough selenium from your diet. A supplement providing 200 mcg/day is suggested.

Summary

A nutritional strategy for preventing colorectal cancer includes plant-based polyphenols, herbs and spices, vitamin D, and selenium. I started my program with red grapes, garlic, and a vitamin D supplement.

For more information, read Life Extension’s colon cancer protocol.

Black is the New Green Tea

The popularity of green tea is well deserved and completely understandable given the numerous health benefits. Not a day goes by without some new clinical study demonstrating the benefits and solidifying its top position in the supplement industry. But emerging research is about to turn green tea black.

Green Tea’s Health Benefits

Green tea is loaded with antioxidants. Potent age fighting nutrients, antioxidants protect cells and tissues from destruction caused by free radicals. Produced from environmental toxins, free radicals attack healthy cells and increase inflammation throughout your body causing irreversible damage. Antioxidants in green tea gobble up free radicals and reduce inflammation, keeping your cells safe and healthy.

Proven benefits of green tea include:

  1. Protection from Heart Disease
  2. Immune System Support
  3. Mood and Memory Enhancement
  4. Relief from Arthritis
  5. Better Blood Sugar Control

But green tea has its limits…it can’t stop the production of free radicals or prevent inflammation from starting in the first place. Emerging research on black tea, however, offers new hope.

Black is the New Green Tea

Black tea is leading the way into a new field of study called nutrigenomics.By influencing the expression of certain genes, black tea can prevent the production of free radicals and stop inflammation before it even starts. It’s antiaging and disease prevention at its best.

Black tea compounds called theaflavins are capturing the attention of longevity researchers.

Theaflavins Inhibit Inflammation

Much of the misery of age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and even cancer can be laid at the feet of inflammatory processes that presumably originally evolved for the preservation of our health. A lifetime to inflammation saturates your body in molecules known as cytokines and chemokines, which are used by immune system cells to signal each other and react to potential threats.

Long-term effects of these cytokines include increased production of free radicals and further inflammation, which perpetuates the cycle and increases our risk for a myriad of chronic conditions. These inflammatory molecules are the products of specific genes and black tea theaflavins can turn the genes off.

The remarkable ability of theaflavins to target specific genes may allow for exquisite control of inflammation exactly when and where it starts. Highly purified theaflavin extracts have been shown to reduce damage caused by inflammation-based diseases such as:

1. Cancer

2. Cardiovascular disease

3. Diabetes

4. Arthritis

5. Inflammatory bowel disease

Pulling it All Together: How Black Tea Promotes Health and Longevity

There is a plethora of solid data on black tea’s nutrigenomic effects to control the activity of genes involved in inflammation. In fact, the term inflammaginghas recently been coined by Professor Claudio Franceschi, a researcher in aging at the University of Bologna, to describe the inevitable accumulation of products of inflammation associated with advancing age.

Bottom line: inflammation is the common denominator of all chronic age-related diseases. The highly purified theaflavins from black tea, now available as supplements, may help to slow the aging process and add years to your life. Black tea certainly deserves a place in any responsible, scientifically based program of preventive health maintenance.

Higher vitamin C levels associated with lower blood pressure in young women

Higher vitamin C levels associated with lower blood pressure in young women

In an article published online on December 17, 2008 in Nutrition Journal, Gladys Block of the University of California, Berkeley and her associates report that young women who have higher plasma levels of vitamin C have lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as a reduced increase in blood pressure over a one year period compared with those whose levels of the vitamin are low.

The current analysis included 242 African-American and Caucasian participants in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study, a ten year longitudinal study designed to evaluate the development of obesity in adolescent girls aged 8 to 11 upon enrollment. Blood pressure was measured at the ninth and tenth annual follow-up visit, and blood samples obtained at the tenth visit were analyzed for plasma ascorbic acid (vitamin C) levels.

Following adjustment for body mass index and other factors, the research team found that women whose plasma vitamin C levels were among the top 25 percent had systolic blood pressure that averaged 4.66 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressure that averaged 6.04 mmHg lower than women whose vitamin C was in the lowest 25 percent. When blood pressure readings from the tenth year of the study were compared with those of the ninth year, women with plasma vitamin C in the lowest 25 percent were found to have experienced an average diastolic increase of 5.97 mmHg, while those whose vitamin C levels were highest had only a 0.23 mmHg increase. A similar effect was observed for systolic blood pressure.

In their discussion of the findings, the authors remark that the antioxidant effect of vitamin C helps protect against oxidative mechanisms involved in the development of hypertension. Additionally, in a clinical trial conducted by Dr Block and colleagues, vitamin C was shown to reduce C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, which is associated with endothelial dysfunction and high blood pressure. “Thus, vitamin C may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure by mitigating the adverse effects of inflammation and oxidative stress,” they write.

The authors note that their results were comparable in magnitude to those of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial, which found a 5.5 mmHg average reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 3.0 mmHg average diastolic reduction in participants who consumed the DASH diet. They suggest that increasing plasma vitamin C to levels comparable with those of participants in the top one-fourth of the current study might achieve a similar effect.

“The findings suggest the possibility that vitamin C may influence blood pressure in healthy young adults,” the authors conclude. “Since lower blood pressure in young adulthood may lead to lower blood pressure and decreased incidence of age-associated vascular events in older adults, further investigation of treatment effects of vitamin C on blood pressure regulation in young adults is warranted.”