Summertime is a great time to shed excess weight. Unfortunately, as we age, it becomes harder to shed the pounds. It is easy to be envious of the beautiful 40+ stars like Sheryl Crow, Halle Berry, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Iman, Christie Brinkley and many more who are as slim and trim as their 20-something counterparts. My patients wonder how do they do it! Well, we know it is not because of a diet full of chilidogs and nachos. You have to work at it, exercise and make the right food choices.
A little help from our friends
But sometimes we need a little extra help, and here is where the right nutrients can make a difference. A young cell is characterized by its energy production, just like a young body. As we age, our physical output decreases. To this end, I have looked for methods to increase energy, naturally and safely, at the cellular level. This has led me to a number of nutrients that work in a special way to enhance the loss of body fat, preserve muscle mass and regulate levels of blood sugar and insulin -- key attributes of a healthy, young body, regardless of chronological age. They will also promote beautiful, healthy, youthful-looking skin. Here are ten of my favorites:
1. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha lipoic acid, often referred to as 'the universal antioxidant," is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory found naturally inside of the energy producing portion of the cell known as the mitochondria. Alpha lipoic acid enhances our ability to metabolize food into energy. ALA is a unique antioxidant because it is both fat and water soluble. This means it can go to all parts of the cell, including the lipid (fat) portions such as the cell plasma membrane, as well as the interior of the cell (known as the cytoplasm) where water soluble chemicals reside.
2. DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol)
DMAE is a naturally occurring nutritional substance with powerful anti-inflammatory properties; it is found in fish including wild Alaskan salmon, anchovies and sardines. DMAE is important in the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential in the communication from one nerve to another and between nerves and muscles. Taking DMAE as a supplement will not only improve your cognitive function by improving memory and problem-solving ability, it will help increase skin firmness and muscle tone -- important for anyone on a weight loss or anti-aging program.
Glutamine is the body's most abundant amino acid. It plays an important role in keeping the muscles functioning properly and helps reduce muscle deterioration. Glutamine literally drives muscle-building nitrogen into the muscle cell where it is synthesized for growth. It is also converted into glucose when the body needs more energy. When the body is in a highly inflammatory state, it breaks down our muscle tissue to get the extra glutamine needed, resulting in muscle mass loss.
Carnitine and its derivative, acetyl L-carnitine, are two of the most important nutrients for weight loss. Carnitine is critical for energy formation and an active metabolism. Carnitine transports the fatty acids from our blood into the cell for this energy production. Thus, for carnitine to have optimum effect, we must have adequate essential fatty acids, such as omega 3's, present in the diet.
5. Acetyl L-carnitine
Acetyl L-carnitine acts as an antioxidant, a natural anti-inflammatory that enhances the affects of the other antioxidant systems within the body. These anti-inflammatory properties protect the cell plasma membrane (the cell's first line of defense) and prevent the conversion of arachidonic acid into pro-inflammatory chemicals. Although exercise will naturally increase our levels of acetyl L-carnitine, if we are obese, over thirty or have other health problems, it will not raise them to therapeutic levels, therefore supplementation is necessary.
6. Coenzyme Q - 10
Coenzyme Q-10, also called ubiquinone, is a powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory with many benefits for treating and preventing obesity. It acts similarly to acetyl L-carnitine in that it assists in energy production within the mitochondria. CoQ10 enhances the metabolism, giving us greater energy and endurance, a greater ability to lose body fat, preventing the energy decline seen in aging cells. CoQ10 also maximizes the burning of foods for fuel, helping to normalize fats in our blood.
7. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Conjugated linoleic acid is a fatty acid found in many of the foods we eat. At one time, beef and lamb were exceptional sources; however when their diet was changed from grass to grain, levels of CLA dramatically decreased in the meat and dairy products. CLA has powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory activity. It decreases body fat, especially in the area of the abdomen and helps block the absorption of fat and sugar into fat cells (adipocytes). It also helps the insulin receptors remain intact, thus increasing insulin sensitivity.
Because Chromium is an essential nutrient for normal sugar and fat metabolism, it is critical in our effort to control and reduce excess body fat. Chromium supplementation effectively lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and can also increase levels of the 'good' HDL cholesterol. This lowers total cholesterol and triglycerides, thus playing a key role in regulating appetite, reducing sugar cravings, and lowering body fat.
9. Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Gamma linolenic acid is an important omega-6 essential fatty acid. The average American diet causes a deficiency of GLA because of the large amounts of trans fatty acids, sugar, red meats and dairy products. The body rapidly converts GLA into dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid, the precursor of prostaglandin E1, a powerful anti-inflammatory hormone-like compound that helps to regulate inflammation, blood pressure, and many other bodily processes.
10. Maitake Mushroom Extract
Studies show that maitake mushroom extract enhances insulin sensitivity for controlling blood sugar levels and may serve as a safe and reliable weight loss supplement -- even without additional behavior modifications, such as decreased caloric intake and increased exercise. It is established as a powerful tool in preventing a dangerous quartet of metabolic imbalances that increase our risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes called Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome consists of high blood pressure, elevated levels of insulin, excess weight (especially around the abdomen), and dyslipidemialow, or low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides.