Friday, January 30, 2009


I've been asked a lot of questions this week about resveratrol in the wake of a 60 Minutes story on it, so I thought this would be a good time to discuss it.

Interest in this goes back 15-20 years, when a phrase "The French Paradox" was coined, which referred to the observation that the French ate like pigs, drank like fish, smoked like chimneys, yet didn't drop like flies as much as we did. Ironically, 60 Minutes, of all people, did a story on it in the early 90's.

What they seemed to drink the most of was red wine, the grapes of which resveratrol is a major constituent. It's also found in pine trees, peanuts and other plants, one of which, polygonnum cuspidatum, turns up in Chinese Medicine used for liver and heart conditions.

The ensuing body of science on resveratrol is far too vast to be covered in one blog entry, so I won't try.

What I will do is to try to provide some overview.

In order to get a sense not only of what resveratrol does, but why it might do this, one has to step back and view plants as existing in the same, toxic environment that we do. They have a need to develop protection from said toxins, too. They evolve to produce these protector compounds, called flavanoids and polyphenols. Turns out, the animals who eat(or drink) these plants seem to have some of this protection conferred upon themselves, too. At least, that's the theory, and the evidence is piling up in favor of it.

The above link talks about the main areas of research. I'm going to focus on the aging question and the best source.

My theory on its anti aging qualities is pretty simple. The studies highlighted in the link clearly demonstrate that resveratrol has an inhibitory effect on many cancers and a protective effect against heart disease. These are the two biggest health threats we have. If you delay or prevent these two things from happening, common sense dictates that, statistically, the population, at large, will live longer.

What science is learning is that food is more than mere calories. Food is also information. Information that may be signaling disease causing genes and turning them off. Red grapes are only the first to be studied extensively and for a fairly long time. There will be more. Keep your eye on hops. That could be tomorrow's resveratrol. Beer and wine. Who knew?

Which brings me to the best source. All jokes aside, excessive alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous. It's a known carcinogen and a lot of other things, few of which are good.

The best way to get this in efficacious amounts is through supplementation of a standardized extract. Most red wine contains very little resveratrol, and you'd have to drink a case of wine a day to get a protective amount of it.

Caveat Emptor; not all supplements are created equal. Cheap supplements usually means poor quality. Metagenics, Thorne, Standard Process, Pure Encapsulation are the best supplement manufacturers on the planet. None of them pay me. The company that does pay me makes very high quality products, as well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Assume Your Audience is Intelligent

This is the time of year for Diet/Fitness books. After the holidays, it's natural for people to make committments to healthier living. The apocolyptic bottom came, for me, the other day, when I walked past Barnes and Noble on 6th Ave., and saw a new fitness book in the window by, none other than TO, aka Terrell Owens.

The topics that the existence of this book, and others like it, underscores, for me, and no, I didn't read it, nor do I intend to, are, fad diets and flawed partnerships.

Jeffrey Bland PHD , once said that if you walked into any bookstore and purchased any fad diet book on the shelf, took it home and executed what it proposed, you would experience positive results. He then said that the only thing that proved was that if you, "Stopped consuming grease filled bags, shoved through anomymous glass windows into high speed automobiles", you will become healthier.

Point being that there is always some truism in just about every diet/health book out there, and any change from blatently toxic behaviors will probably be good. But deeper, fundamental truths are a bit more elusive.

The second thought here concerns celebrity endorsements.

If we keep buying it, they'll keep selling it. Publishers are in a, for profit, business. It's not their fault if we buy an air brushed picture of someone who's only claim to fame was that they were on a sitcom 20 years ago. Nobody's holding a gun to our heads. Dumbing down only works if we allow it to. When ideas become more attractive to us than aging celebrities, our collective conciousness will move forward.

Partnerships with superficiality waste resources. The ideas are the true celebrities, because that's the substance. The interminable phalanx of self help glop purveyed by these people are like so many fast food meals, lots of calories, but very little nutrition.

I grew up, unapologetically, "Grateful Dead". Their publicist and biographer, Dennis McNally, once said that, in their entire 30 year performing life, they adhered to one, underlying principle; "Assume your audience is intelligent.". Now, when the Dead stopped playing in '95, I read in some industry publication that they were the highest grossing live musical act in the country. They accomplished that with very little traditional industry support. This suggests, to me, that the idea has some pretty strong merit, and you can be successful, not by pandering to the lowest common denominator, but by challenging people to rise to their greatest self.

I'm no economist, nor foreign policy wonk, but common sense tells me that this idea could be applied to our larger ship of state, too. Hopefully, it will.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Symptoms vs. Causes

If the roof collapses on a house, is it because the roof is faulty, or is it because the underlying foundation has rotted?

I got a call from a client yesterday that underscored this idea. Her six year old son was experiencing a package of symptoms that had been diagnosed as asthma by one doctor, and an unnamed autoimmune disorder by another.

I asked if tests had been done to determine intestinal permeability, yeast overgrowth, bacterial imbalance, and fungus. They had not. I explained that, even though these symptoms appear in his breathing apparatus, they often begin in the gut and intestines. No doctor had ever discussed this with her, so she, understandably, had some difficulty accepting this notion.

If the digestive tract is damaged, toxins will leak into the surrounding tissue and trigger the release of all sorts of inflammatory agents to try to suppress the uprising. They will also migrate to weakened areas in the body. In her son's case that was his sinuses and bronchi. For someone with a twisted knee, it would stiffen the knee.

This speaks to a larger issue of how we are taught to view our health. We have to learn to look for the underlying cause of any problem. Where does it start, not just where does it show up? Even down to what we're ingesting that creates an environment for the problem. We are discovering that food is more than just calories. Food is also information that signals genes. Some foods can turn on disease causing genes, some turn them off. Some foods produce inflamation, others reduce it.

If the roof collapses, look at the foundation first.