Nutrition/Molecular Fitness

 

So, let’s talk NUTRITION.  I don’t mean simply taking supplements out of a container. Yes, I believe in that a great deal, and we will talk more about that.  I mean, what do you put in your mouth, be it liquid or solid, throughout your day. 

A few years ago, I had the privilege of taking a course called Molecular Fitness (www.molecularfitness.com) from Darrel Tanelian MD.  I became certified after testing and truly believe in what he says.  

Dr. Tanelian’s history: graduated from high school at sixteen, was accepted to Stanford University (no small accomplishment for anyone), graduated and began medical school at Stanford. He graduated, not just with a medical degree, but with two other PHDs.  He began practicing and realized our system is nothing more than “sick” care or reactive care. 

This changed is life and he has spent years teaching the following premise. 

I invited him to give a talk at our clinic to folks from our area.  Thus, I had the great opportunity to pick his brain during his time here--from the rides to and from the airport to dinner and of course, the talk itself.  It was a fantastic chance to immerse myself in the details of Molecular Fitness over the course of two days. 

So, what do I mean by molecular fitness? 

As I mention from time to time, the whole is greater then the sum of the parts. Our bodies’ nutritional needs are no different then our musculoskeletal needs. 

In the musculoskeletal system, we can have all the parts moving well such as hips, knees and shoulders, etc.   If we have good movement patterns, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts, and we are a more efficient machine. 

The same thing happens nutritionally. We may have a proper caloric intake, with appropriate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but if these aren’t the correct ratios and types of proteins, carbohydrates and fats we become unhealthy and sick.  

Diseases are either intrinsic (something we do to ourselves, think diabetes or heart disease) or extrinsic (think viral infection).  In the broad scheme of things, people don’t die from infections very often anymore when compared to intrinsic diseases. We have made medications to combat viruses and bacteria.  

The diseases that are creating chronic diseases which are horribly expensive and eventually are the leading causes of death and disability are intrinsic.  These are, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, ocular degeneration, hypothyroid and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's, stroke and its side effects.  Our body can only survive in an environment where our blood pH (acidic like battery acid or basic like baking soda) is slightly basic (alkaline).  In fact, an early indicator of eminent death is a blood pH gone astray.  

With levels running from 0-14 with zero being acid, our urine pH should be anywhere from 7.0-7.5.  Most Americans run a urine pH around 5.5 which is very acidic. On the ph scale, that is 100 times too low.  

Why does this matter and what can cause this acidic urine pH?  

Each cell in our body has specialized molecules called connexins. These are essentially ports that allow our billions of cells to communicate. To communicate properly and allow an exchange of small molecules of proteins, nucleotides (genetic material) and plethora of other molecules to promote cellular health, these connexins MUST be open.  We know from research when we put cells into a dish and add a mild acid, the connexins close when viewed under electron microscopy. When a base is added, these connexins open.  

So, why is this important? Imagine being the cell at the end of the line. In an acid environment with connexins closed, you receive none of the important molecules needed for life. These cells degenerate and can become free radicals ( very unhealthy for our body) leading to oxidation (think metals rusting).  This leads to more cell death and much like a repetitive stress injury, the cycle continues until SOMETHING stops it.  

What is the SOMETHING? The SOMETHING is proper nutrition created by an alkaline diet which opens connexins and allows proper nutrients to pass from cell to cell.  

So, what are the benefits of an alkaline diet, and for that matter, what is an alkaline diet?  

Dr. Tanelian explains in his book Molecular Fitness, (available on his website), how to construct connexin friendly diet.  Obviously, fruits and vegetables lead the way to an anti-inflammatory diet. But, that isn’t the whole story.  

There are foods that are very inflammatory. Foods such as pasta, processed meats and cheeses and processed foods (think box foods) are inflammatory. The chloride ion in sodium chloride (think salt) is the culprit in inflammation, not the sodium.  Salt is in all processed foods. Using low sodium salt is fine, but it has no effect on inflammation.  

For starters, remember, if a food can be in a box and on a shelf for 6 months, it most likely is not good for you in most instances. Even if the nutritional content listed on the box indicates that it contains nutrients, those nutrients won’t serve you well if they are not able to be shared amongst your cells due to closed connexins.      

Also, all meat products are inflammatory, even salmon.  However, this doesn’t mean we can’t eat these foods.  It is simply a matter of blending inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods together that is the trick.  You can have a chicken breast or hamburger but with that have a salad or asparagus. A glass of wine is also anti-inflammatory.  Pair that pasta with a glass of wine and a large spinach salad.  

With your salad, use extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Many of the commercially prepared salad dressings contain unhealthy ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.  So check labels!  

It really comes down to eating a mixed diet of whole foods so you have a balance of pro and anti-inflammatory foods and you end of with a urine pH two hours later of 7 to 7.5.  

It helps to do a week long diary of all foods and liquids you eat.   

You can then google PRAL (potential renal acid load) to see what your acid loads were for each meal. It will have positive or negative numbers for every food you eat.   

Here is a site for many PRAL values. 
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/acid-base-foods-pral.pdf 

As an athlete, eating a carbohydrate meal prior to a race may help store energy to a certain extent, but it is very inflammatory and counterproductive with regards to injuries and recovery. So, have pasta, but eat plenty of alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables also.  Supplements such as calcium, potassium and magnesium are anti-inflammatory. Use them. They are beneficial for many reasons.  

For the rest of us, WHY is an inflammatory diet bad for your overall health?  

When thinking of coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, strokes, ocular degeneration and osteoporosis and cancer, what do they have in common?  

They all have at their root, INFLAMMATION.  

Arteries anywhere in the body are lined with a tissue we call an endothelium. In an inflammatory environment, the endothelium becomes sticky along with our platelets (these are cells that help clot cuts, for instance).  When the endothelium is sticky, any level of platelets, calcium, triglycerides and cholesterol may adhere and begin to form a blockage.  

This same scenario plays out with strokes and the micro vascular hemorrhages that occur over time in the brain leading to cognitive problems and dementia.  

The vessels in the eye require adequate blood supply.  When deficient, you can imagine what happens to the tissues of the retina and nerve supply in the eye!  

Cancer thrives in an acid environment and not in an alkaline environment.  

Our body buffers (think balances) our blood by constantly monitoring the pH of the blood. When is wanders even a little bit below normal into an acid pH, it grabs calcium from our biggest storage in the body, our skeleton which then plays a role in osteoporosis. When we eat a balanced pH diet, it isn’t necessary to rob our calcium from our bones.  

Two studies over the past two years in Great Britain shed enormous light on schizophrenia.   Guess what these two ground breaking studies found at the core of this terrible disease: INFLAMMATION IN THE BRAIN.  Those that had schizophrenia had high levels of brain inflammation. Those that didn’t, did not.  In the second study, they could predict essentially who in a family would most likely become schizophrenic based on their inflammatory markers.  These are HUGE findings. 

 

My experience 

My father had a heart attack at 54 and bypass at 56.  He is now 85.  Following his heart attack, my mother researched and used a diet, that without realizing it, was anti-inflammatory with low sodium chloride along with lots of veggies and fruits.  

I am 60.  When I was 57 I met with a cardiologist and had a complete cardiac risk factor review. I generally run cholesterol around 280, and my triglycerides are also high. I do run high HDLs ( good cholesterol, usually around 60).  I tried statin drugs 15 years ago and they made me sick and in constant pain, common side effects.  I quit taking the statins and have tried to use an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of weekly exercise instead.  My exam consisted of the blood work listed above which also found my CRP (c reactive protein) to be low.  CRP and SED rates are markers for inflammation in the body.  I had a stress test on a treadmill with a follow up ultrasound and a CT calcium scan of the heart (these are as sensitive and much safer than a angiogram).  My stress test was excellent, and my CT heart scan was also. The findings on a CT heart calcium scan can range from 0 to well over 400 with 0 being no blockage and 400 meaning considerable blockage. Mine was a 5.  The cardiologist’s findings stated I had little to no probability of having coronary artery disease.  

WHY? I run high levels of “bad” fats and have for at least 20 years.   

I believe it is a matter of trying to keep inflammation low.  

Besides an anti-inflammatory diet, I take high levels of Omega 3 ( 5 grams) per day with high amounts of DHA and EPA (the fats you need). I also take probiotics which are necessary for a healthy intestinal track. Probiotics are now being looked at for treating many problems, including brain issues. I take 5000 units of D3 per day which are excellent for the immune system along with many other benefits. I also take COQ10 for cellular health. I also use Young Living Essential Oils for many things with anti-inflammation being at the top of the list.   A good multivitamin rounds out the list.  

The health of the human body is very, very complex.  There are many feedback loops.  One thing here affects another there.  There are no guarantees of health and living to be a vibrant 100 years of age.  However, eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet helps your odds!  

Exercise forces your arteries to contract and expand keeping them from becoming rigid. Rigid arteries anywhere in the body combined with inflammation is a recipe for disaster.  

We can’t control all factors involved in a long and productive life. However, you use what we know.   

Why not level the playing field by doing what you can to positively affect your health?  

Talk to a provider with a strong nutritional background to help you get started on your road to health!  

ALWAYS REMEMBER. MOVE WELL FIRST. THEN MOVE MORE. Think FMS. 

Movement is taken for granted...until you can’t. 

Yours in Health, 
Jim