Carry That Weight

January 9, 2010 at 6:09 PM | Posted in diet | Leave a comment
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Not long ago, I came across a study by researchers at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco that showed that mice lacking MGAT2, an enzyme involved in fat absorption produced in the intestines, can eat a high fat diet without putting on weight while  otherwise similar mice that have the enzyme pack on the pounds (ounces?).  I immediately searched PubMed for effective, readily available inhibitors of this enzyme.  After all, to effectively squelch MGAT2 activity, the inhibitor need only traverse the stomach; no need to worry about it crossing the blood-brain barrier or being rapidly broken down by hepatic enzymes.  I quickly discovered that MGAT2 is readily inhibited by two well known fatty acids: sphingosine and oleic acid.  For a number of reasons, sphingosine is not really an ideal solution (it’s mitogenic for one), on the other hand, oleic acid is found in quite a few commonly used food products, including olive oilAcai berries are another rich source of oleic acid.  Of course, I knew that acai berries are one of the most hyped weight loss supplements of recent years.  What I didn’t know until recently was that another well publicized weight loss plan, first presented in The Shangri La Diet, basically boils down to downing a couple of well-timed tablespoons of extra light olive oil every day.

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Sunshine Superman

December 22, 2009 at 6:25 AM | Posted in diet, Mental health | 3 Comments
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One all too common consequence of the sedentary, sheltered lives we typically lead these days is Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin at all, but a hormone produced by the body when its exposed to sunlight.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t spend much time outdoors these days.  Not only are we usually sequestered away in our homes, schools or offices most of the time, some of us, for fear of being struck by a very deadly form of skin cancer known as melanoma, are limiting our exposure to an even greater extent now by liberally applying sunblock before venturing into the great outdoors for any great length of time.  Although this hasn’t resulted in a new pandemic of Ricketts, it’s become apparent that low levels of Vitamin D can make us vulnerable to a wide variety of other types of health problems, including osteoporosis, muscle weakness, prostate and breast cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes, schizophrenia, depression, and cardiovascular disease.  In fact, nearly everyday a new clinical study is published showing that Vitamin D ameliorative effects on one disease or another, or showing that low levels of Vitamin D correlate with this or that unhealthy condition. That’s why a recent perspective in JAMA suggests that the minimum recommended daily intake of Vitamin D be revised upwards.  Of course, people might also consider spending a little more time outdoors. A little sun can be good for you.  And a bit of fresh air wouldn’t hurt either.

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