Complexity and Medical System

•September 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The complexity of the medical system has increased dramatically over the last few decades. Care of patients is affected by care providers being able to manage the complexity. The following TED talk discusses this issue and some success related to addressing this issue. I thought it was very insightful

Atul Gawande: How do we heal medicine?

Be Deliberate with your Carbohydrate Consumption – PART 2

•November 20, 2011 • 5 Comments

The intent of scientific exploration is to systematically study the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Through scientific exploration humanity has made huge advancements. We have discovered how to talk to one another over thousands of miles of land. We have discovered how to breath underwater. We have discovered how to take a heart from a dead body and place it in a living person to replace their sick heart. We have even discovered how to fly.

 

This is truly an amazing time to be alive.

 

Living in a time in which we are benefiting from all these wonderful advancements can distort our view of scientific knowledge. There are always boundaries to what is scientifically understood and it is not always clear where the boundaries are. Often humanity fills in their knowledge gaps with speculation. Pieces of knowledge are glued together into an understanding. As more knowledge is discovered and validated it is sometimes revealed that the speculation was correct, while it is sometimes revealed that the speculation was wrong. Unfortunately, when the speculation is wrong, it can be very difficult to establish a new understanding. 

 

 

Bloodletting is an example of a medical practice that proved to be based on a mistaken scientific understanding. Bloodletting was a standard medical practice that was used to treat a wide range of diseases. It involved withdrawing blood from patients. A patient’s artery would be punctured in order to bleed a small quantity of blood. [1]

 

Today it is well established that bloodletting is not an effective treatment for most disease and that the historic use of bloodletting was harmful to patients. It weakened patients and facilitated infections. In fact in many cases the practice of bleeding directly led to the death of patients. In 1799, George Washington, the 1st president of the United States, developed a throat infection and he was aggressively bled. Almost 4 pounds of blood was withdrawn prior to his death from this throat infection.[2]

 

Bloodletting was the most common medical practice performed for almost 2000 years. Serious questioning of the benefits of bloodletting began in the second half of the 1800s, however, it was still recommended in some Medical textbooks into the 20th century. [3]

 

The practice of bloodletting parallels the weight loss dietary recommendations made by the medical community today. In the 1890s, scientists created a theory to explain why people gaining excess weight based on the first law of thermodynamics. They speculated that people gained weight as a result of their body expending of less energy than they consumed and concluded that to lose weight a person needs to consume less energy and/or expend more energy. This understanding is scientifically based and it appears to work. People seek help for problems with weight. They are advised to expend more energy through exercise and lower their energy consumption by lowering their caloric intake. Those that follow the advice lose weight, which gives the appearance that the recommendations were effective. Likewise, bloodletting was based on speculation and maintained as a medical practice because it appeared to be effective. People came to doctors seeking medical care, they received medical care (bloodletting) and the majority got better.  Humanity needs to move beyond the calorie control understanding, because the science behind these dietary recommendation was incomplete.

 

Our bodies carefully regulate the amount fat in our fat tissue. Fat is continuously flowing out of our fat cells and circulating around the body to be used for fuel and, if it’s not used for fuel, returned to the fat cells. Over the course of a day, a significant portion of the fuel yours cells burn will be provided from your fat cells. Thus, fat tissue is more like a wallet than a savings or retirement account. Fat accumulation is caused by a diet the consistently raises blood glucose level beyond the level the body was setup to handle. This causes excess insulin secretion and results in fat accumulation.[4]

 

Checkout this Video: Why You Got Fat

 

Omega 3: Relief from Anxiety and Depression

•October 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Life events and circumstances often dominate our thoughts about improving our position in life. Thoughts like, my life would be greatly improved if I had more money, if I had a beautiful home, if I lost 20 pounds, if I met someone and fell in love, if I finished my masters degree, if I had more time to spend with my friends, if I could spend a month on vacation in Hawaii… And it is true that having good things happen in your life can enhance your life experience. However, how people experience life is greatly affected by their emotional health and their emotional health is greatly affected by their brain function.

For this reason, actions to maintain and improve brain function can be wonderful opportunities to improve a person’s position in life. I decided that I wanted to write about omega 3 in this blog because I saw a video on CNN. The video reminded me that many people are suffering with anxiety and depression, and they could be helped by increasing their intake of omega 3.

Check out CNN video: Could fish oil help lower suicide rates?

Omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the brain’s major building blocks. For this reason, higher intake of omega 3 improves brain function and increasing your intake of omega 3 can improve your life more than then you imagined to be possible. Checkout the following video. It tells the story of one child’s life becoming improving due to incorporation of omega 3 into his diet:

The improvements that the boy in this video experienced are miraculous. His entire experience of the world changed, because his brain function improved. These life improvements are invisible. You can see and touch a new car. You cannot see and touch better brain function. Yet better brain function has the power to improve all aspects of a person’s life experience. The discovery of the importance of omega 3 supplements may be one of the most important discoveries of our time and you can take avantage of these discoveries. Omega 3 supplements are cheap, widely available, and have the power to improve your life in a miraculous way.

Experts recommend that health individuals take 650 mg of DHA plus EPA. There are two components of omega 3: eico-sapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaeonic acid (DHA). These two components make up the bulk of the omega-3 oils. The ratio of EPA and DHA can vary considerably in commercial products, however, most of which have much higher concentrations of EPA, mainly because it is less expensive to manufacture and has a less fishy odor than DHA. Yet, studies have shown that most of the neurological benefits of omega-3 oils are derived from the DHA component rather than the EPA component. Here is a product I think is good:

Dr Murray Fish Oil

Some people do not like taking fish oil supplements because they have fishy burps after taking them. I do not have that problem, but my husband Nick has this problem. I have tried freezing the capsules, but he said that did not work. I have tried the fish oil gummies. They worked okay. They may be the perfect solution for kids. However, enteric-coated fish oil tablets appear to be the best to avoid the fishy burps. Nick said that he still gets fishy burps a little with the enteric-coated fish oil tablets, but much less. Let me know if you find a product or method of eliminating this problem. In the mean time, I think fishy burps are a small price to pay for a modern day miracle.

Enteric-coated fish oil

Positive Psychology: How To Construct a Happier Life – PART 3

•June 5, 2011 • 2 Comments

The pursuit of happiness in many ways drives the courses of our lives. Which is why it is worth stepping back and deeply considering the issue of what truly increases our happiness. Increasing happiness is not a trivial endeavor.  It takes deliberate effort done on a continual basis. Happiness is an achievable goal. Happiness is not just a matter of luck. You can learn skills to increase your happiness and you can work to incorporate those skills into your life.  

So what is happiness and what determines happiness?

Sonja Lyubomirsky is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. She is also the author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. [1] Check out these videos of a presentation she did. They start to answer these two critical questions:

Sonja Lyubomirsky: What is Happiness?

Sonja Lyubomirsky: What Determines Happiness?

Scientists have begun to seriously study this question of what behaviors can people adopt to increase their happiness. The Greater Good Science Center is based at the University of California, Berkley. Its mission is to study the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.[2] Their science has uncovered that kindness and compassion promotes happiness and is also a key component of maintaining physical health:

Check out this video: Kindness Scientist

We do not live in a bubble. We live in a community filled with other living beings. We contribute to others well-being and others contribute to our well-being. We need each other. The following is a quote from the Art of Happiness[3]:

…the other day I spoke about the factors necessary to enjoy a happy and joyful life. Factors such as good health, material goods, friends, and so on. If you closely investigate, you’ll find all of these depend on other people. To maintain good health, you rely on medicines made by others and health care provided by others. If you examine all of the material facilities that you use for the enjoyment of life, you’ll find that there are hardly any of these material objects that have no connection with other people. If you think carefully, you’ll see that all of these goods come into being as a result of the efforts of many people, either directly or indirectly. Many people are involved in making those things possible. Needless to say, when we’re talking about good friends and companions as being another necessary factor for a happy life, we are talking about interaction with …other human beings.

We need each other. Our ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships is critical to our happiness. Lack of meaningful relationships causes us distress.

It was not until I went to college that I experienced a significant period of loneliness. My parent’s house was a loving household.  There were always people around to share life experiences with and I had many close relationships.  Moving out of my parent’s house to my first college dorm room proved to be a rude disruption to my support system. I gave too little thought to forming a new social network.

I thought I would meet people in the course of my days and make friendships. I was surprised when this did not happen. As the first days of college passed my loneliness became more and more intolerable. I went back to my parents almost every weekend and emailed my high school friends to fill the gap. Yet in my day to day college life I did not have one close friend…until I started my first romance. The romance provided the day to day intimacy that I had been missing, but it did not last. The romance ended after two years and outside of the romance I had very few friends. Thus, when it ended my loneliness returned in full force.  I wallowed in my heartbreak and loneliness longer than I care to admit.

Over time I made more of an effort to make friends, and slowly I grew a social network. However, my loneliness was not cured until a friend from high school moved into my apartment. This made all the difference. I no longer felt so alone.

Since then I have been more careful about making life choices that may impact my social network and I have become more reflective about loneliness. These periods of loneliness were unhappy days for me. My life was on track. There were many good things happening in my life, but without close relationships in my day to day life, I felt empty.

Turns out many people have had experiences like I have had. Virtually all people report that they have experienced loneliness. In one large survey, one fourth of U.S. adults report they had experienced extreme loneliness at least once within the previous two weeks. Although we often think of chronic loneliness as an affliction particularly widespread among elderly, isolated in empty apartments or in the back wards of nursing homes, research suggests that teenagers and young adults are just as likely to report they are lonely as the elderly.[4]

Intimate relationships are a critical piece of a happy lifestyle.  Virtually all researchers agree that intimate relationships are a hub from which people draw strength and enjoyment. Intimacy promotes both physical and psychological well-being. Separation from other human beings is at the very root of the human experience of fear, sadness, and sorrow.[5]

However, it can be difficult to connect with even one person. One of the challenges is overcoming fear or apprehension of being disliked or judged. A powerful antidote to these apprehensions is to developed appreciation for the value of compassion.

If you are able to look at every human being from a positive angle you can more easily approach each person with a feeling of openness. With that attitude, you can create the possibility of having a meaningful conversation. In many cases people tend to expect others to respond to them in a positive way first, rather than taking the initiative themselves to create that possibility. This can act as a barrier that just serves to promote a feeling of isolation from others. Approaching others with the thought of compassion in your mind can help you overcome apprehensions.[6]

By pursuing activities that will increase our sense of compassion you can work towards a more happy life. One way of increasing our sense of compassion is through deliberate acts of kindness. Check out the following video:

Sonja Lyubomirsky: Happiness for a Lifetime

Another avenue to cultivate compassion is through expanding our concept of intimacy to include all the other forms that surround us on a daily basis. By broadening our definition of intimacy, we open ourselves to discovering many new and equally satisfying ways of connecting with others.[7]

In 1994, Larry King wrote a book called How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication. Larry King is a American television and radio host that is recognized in the United States as one of the premier broadcast interviewers. He has interviewed a broad range of guests from controversial figures of UFO conspiracy theories and alleged psychics, to prominent politicians and leading figures in the entertainment industry, often doing their first or only interview on breaking news stories on his show.[8] The following is a quote from this book[9]:

To me, talk is one of the great pleasures of life, something I’ve always loved to do…But as much as I enjoy talking, I know why people can be uncomfortable with it. There’s the fear of saying the wrong things, or saying the right thing in the wrong way…When you’re talking to a stranger, or a lot of people at once, the fear is magnified…One thing I’ve learned is that there’s no one you can’t talk to, if you have the right attitude.

Be honest. You can never go wrong…Let your listeners and views share your experience and how you feel. [That way] we’re going through this together. They know I’ve been honest with them, and that I’m going to give them my best effort…I am making them a part of my experience…Whether the setting is social or professional, one of the first things to accomplish in talking to people is to put them at ease. Most of us are naturally shy…all of us tend to be nervous or at least on edge when we’re talking to someone we haven’t met before. The best way I’ve found to overcome shyness is to remind yourself…we are all human being, so just because you’re talking to a college professor with four degrees or an astronaut who has flown in space at 18,000 miles an hour or someone who has been elected governor of your state doesn’t mean you should come unglued.

Always remember this: People you’re talking to will enjoy the conversation more if they see you are presenting yourself as someone who’s enjoying it, too, whether you consider yourself their equal or not.

Keep in mind that almost all of us started out the same way. Very few of us are born to wealth and power, unless you’re a Kennedy or a Rockefeller or a member of one of a few select families. Most of us started our as children of middle- or lower-income families…And chances are the people we’re talking to did too. Maybe we’re not as rich and famous as they are or as successful in our field, but we can relate as brothers and sisters. You don’t have to stand there feeling inferior or intimidated. You belong in that room just as much as the person you’re talking to.

It also helps you to overcome your shyness if you remember that the person you’re talking to is probably just as shy as you are. Most of us are. Reminding yourself of this will do wonders for your ability to shed your own shyness

By being willing to open ourselves to many others, to family, friends, and even strangers, allow us to forming genuine and deep bonds based on our common humanity.

Check out the following video:

RSA Animate – The Empathic Civilization

Cultivating compassion allows you to both increase your own happiness and increase the happiness of others in the process. We need each other. A happy deviant recognizes this and works hard to support others in their battle for a happy life.

Positive Psychology: How To Construct a Happier Life – PART 2

•May 22, 2011 • 2 Comments

For much of the beginning of my adult life I approached life from a logical, problem solving perspective. I set goals. I thought through how I could achieve my goals. When problems occurred I went about trying to solve them. I tried to speak truth and always honestly represent things.

At the end of college, a friend of mine started to change my perspective. He approached life with optimism. An example of this was when I had just completed an interview for my dream job. I wanted the job more than anything, and was going on and on about it. He confidently said to me “You’ll get the job.”. It struck me as odd. He did not know me very well. What did he know whether I would get the job or not. But it made me feel so good…very encouraged. That is what stuck with me. I knew I would have never said that, because it was not a fact. I also knew it was a gift that he had said it.

The second thing that happened that changed my perspective is that I saw a movie called ‘The Secret’. It is a video that spread through emails and eventually was on Oprah. One of the key things that the movie made me realize was that some problems are best resolved by not focusing on them, and instead focusing on what is already successful. This was news to me. I thought if something was not right in my life or in the world that I should work to correct it. When I realized I was better served and the world was better served by me focusing on all the good things in my life and in the world, imaging a wonderful future for myself and in the world, and letting go of the bad things in my life and in the world, it was very freeing. For me, I needed a reason to be justified in letting go of bad things as quickly as possible and embracing good things.

I since have been amazed how approaching life in this way has served me. A loved one says something to me that hurts my feelings, I try not to dwell on it. When a loved one says something that makes me feel good. I savor it and thank them. Maybe bring it up a couple more times. When something good happens in the world I think about how wonderful that is and how good the world is. When something bad happens in the world, I try not to dwell on it. When a someone achieves something or does something nice for me.  I celebrate it. Make sure that they know I think they are great.

I started to see problems that I never directly tried to solve…resolve themselves. I have come to realize that I do not need to force good things to happen.  Good things are already happening, and good things will continue to happen.

If you haven’t seen ‘The Secret’, I highly recommend it. I might help you see the world a little differently and your role in the world a little differently. I could not find the whole video on-line, but here is the first twenty minutes:

The Secret: View first 20 minutes

It is also interesting that Oprah attributes her success to practicing the techniques featured in ‘The Secret’. She of course has been a big positive force in the world:

Larry King Interview Oprah on The Secret

It is not surprising that cultivating optimism is one of the strategies  researchers have found to be effective in increasing happiness. Gratitude helps people recognize and savor the good things that have already occurred. Optimism helps people anticipate a bright future.

One way to cultivate optimism was outlined in The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. It is called an optimism intervention. It is a mental exercise in which you spend twenty minutes visualizing “your best possible self”. In this twenty minutes you fantasize what your life might be like if all of your dreams are realized. This is beyond fanciful daydreaming. It involves considering your most important, deeply held goals, and picturing that they will be achieved.

This Best Possible Self exercise was used to study optimism. Participants were told: “You have been randomly assigned to think about your best possible self now and during the next few weeks. ‘Think about your best possible self’ means you imagine yourself in the future, after everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all your life goals. Think of this as the realization of your life dreams, and of your own best potential.” Those participants who engaged in the Best Possible Selves exercise caught a significant lift in happiness compared to the control group that wrote simply about the details of their daily lives.[1]

You can also help those in your life celebrate the good things that happen in their life and help them anticipate more good thinks happening in the future by consciously, deliberately responding to them reporting good news.

Everyday Interventions – Actively Responding to Loved ones’ successes

Like cultivating gratitude, I think that it is easy to dismiss the value of working towards becoming a more optimist person. One may even think that becoming more optimistic is foolish or unrealistic…maybe even deceptive. For all those that may have some of those feelings check out this quote[2]:

Optimisms is not about providing a recipe for self-deception. The world can be a horrible, cruel place, and at the same time it can be wonderful and abundant. These are both truths. There is not a halfway point; there is only choosing which truth to put in your personal foreground.

Another strategy that I use to try and cultivate optimism in myself is doing regular affirmations. The following video is a great example of affirmations:

My Optimistic Creed: A Declaration for Daily Happiness

Life is Good. All the Time. If you allow yourself to embrace this and bring this to the foreground of your life experience you will be a lot closer to becoming a happy deviant.


[1] The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, page 104

[2] The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, page 111

Positive Psychology: How To Construct a Happier Life – PART 1

•May 15, 2011 • 4 Comments

 

[1]

Surprise. Many of the things that you are working towards right now will not increase your happiness in a lasting way. Getting that promotion, looking younger,  living in a nicer climate, finishing that degree, relief from your bad back, more flexibility at work, or your child excelling at school will not increase your happiness in a lasting way. Turns out human beings are terrible at predicting what will increase their happiness. Psychological scientists have amassed persuasive evidence that we are routinely off base about what will bring us pleasure and fulfillment, and as a result, we sometimes work to make things happen that don’t actually make us happy. Why is this so hard for us to believe?

Because the truth is that these things do make us happy. Our misunderstanding is that we mistakenly believe these things will bring lots of happiness for a long time. When they actually bring a little happiness for a short time.[2]

The first step to becoming more happy is to realize that you do not already know how to make yourself happier. Here is the really awesome news!!! You can learn how to increase your happiness. Once you accept this, you can begin the process of deliberately doing things to increase your personal happiness.

Have you ever thought “I just want to be happy.” Well listen up. This is for really. Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that began in 1998. Its focus is the study of happiness and fulfillment. [3]

Harvard University’s most popular course is on happiness[4]. The following three videos are a presentation done by one of the professors at Harvard that have taught students about happiness. These videos are wonderful. I recommend watching all three:

Shawn Achor, Part 1: The Science of Happiness and Potential

Shawn Achor, Part 2: The Science of Happiness and Potential

Shawn Achor, Part 3: The Science of Happiness and Potential

A few times I have started looking at my photo album on Facebook and I end up spending longer than I intended to looking at pictures. It has been sort of a surprise to me. I do not take a lot of pictures and I rarely post pictures on Facebook, but I have some pictures of my wedding, some pictures of my trip to Australia, and Facebook friends have tagged me in some of their pictures. What draws me in is reliving some of my favorite experiences with some of my favorite people. Every time after looking at the pictures I was left feeling very fortunate.

Until I stated reading about increasing happiness, I did not connect this activity with increasing my personal happiness. However, I now realize that this is an example of a happiness boosting activity. Activities that increase your sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life are a metastrategy for achieving happiness. Research clearly demonstrates that you would be happier is you cultivated an “attitude of gratitude”. People who are consistently grateful are happier, more energetic, are more hopeful, and report experiencing more frequent positive emotions. Furthermore, grateful people are less likely to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic.

How to cultivate gratitude in your life is a question that only you can answer. In order to be effective, it has to be a method that is meaningful and heartfelt for you. I want to stress that this is absolutely a worthwhile use of your time. I think that it is easy to read something like this and think “oh that is interesting…I bet there is some truth to that”…and then do nothing. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor.  Do something. Try something to cultivate gratitude in your heart.

Here are a couple of methods of cultivating gratitude that may work for you. This first one I saw on the wildly popular film ‘The Secret’. A man in the film had a rock that he carried in his pocket. Every morning he would pick up the rock and put it in his pocket. Every evening he would empty his pockets. He made a habit of thinking of all of the things he is grateful for every time he touched the rock. Another idea is to find a gratitude partner with whom you share your blessings list and who prompts and encourages you if you lose motivation or simply forget. What I do is mark a date on the calendar every week and on that day I sit down and write down ten things I am grateful for.[5]

I challenge you to choose a strategy for increasing your awareness of all of the good things in your life.

It is a truism that how you think -about yourself, your world, and other people – is more important to your happiness than the objective circumstances of your life.[6]

The Antioxidant Network Advantage: Improve and Protect the Function of Your Brain & Body

•March 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In has taken me a surprisingly long time to research antioxidants. The materials I initially found on the subject were not very good. This was a surprise to me. I have heard the term antioxidant many times in advertisements and news articles. However, when I really tried to nail down the role of antioxidants in creating and maintaining health, I found much of the material vague, conflicting and unhelpful. And then I found two awesome books:

The Antioxidant Miracle was written by Lester Packer Ph.D. a cellular biologist whom has studied antioxidants for decades at University of California Berkeley. Making a Good Brain Great was written by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. He is a psychiatrist that is the medical director of Amen Clinics. The Amen Clinics specialize in using SPECT scans to evaluate and treat psychiatric and neurological issues.

What I have surmised after looking through all the information I found concerning antioxidants is that the medical community has not yet come to a consensus concerning the role of antioxidants. This may be because the role of antioxidants in our bodies has proven to be complex, studies of individual antioxidants have been mostly positive, but mixed, and the technology, which has allowed mankind to study antioxidants, is relatively new. Scientists are still trying to create a framework for studying antioxidants:

Checkout this article: Antioxidant Controversy: Scientists Seek Measurement Standards

In some ways antioxidants have defied conventional clinical studies, because there is an interplay between many molecules. Until recently, scientists believed that each antioxidant worked separately in the body, independently of the others; and many of the studies concerning antioxidants have studied individual antioxidants. Now we know there is a dynamic interplay among certain key antioxidants…These special network antioxidants work together in our bodies to strengthen us and protect us from disease.[1]

Only in the last century has the technology neccessary to study antioxidant’s function in cells been avilable. Antioxidants are single molecules, an electron microscope is required to view them. In 1931, a German physician named Ernst Ruska and an electrical engineer named Max Knoll constructed the first electron microscope. It used a particle beam of electrons to illuminate the specimen. The first electron microscope was only capable of 400 power magnification, which was not a greater resolution than light microscopes could provide. However, two years later, in 1933, Ruska built an electron microscope that exceeded the resolution attainable with an optical (lens) microscope. The Siemens company procured the patent for the electron microscope and, 1937, Siemens financed pioneering efforts to develop application for the microscope; and in 1939 Siemens produced the first commercial Transmission Electron Microscope. Electron microscopes have greater resolving power than a light-powered optical microscope. Electrons have wavelengths about 100,000 times shorter than visible light, and can achieve better than 0.2 nm resolution, which makes magnifications up to 2,000,000x possible. In comparison, Light microscopes are only useful for magnifications 2000x and below.[2] 

This was the technology that allowed Lester Packard, Ph.D. and his colleagues to study the smallest components of cells and study how they interacted and worked. It was the study of biological oxidation that revealed the importance of antioxidants.

Oxygen has been shown to be a dangerous friend.  The human body requires ample amounts of oxygen for metabolism, the breakdown of nutrients to create the energy for growth and other body activity, from breathing to thinking, from having sex to keeping our hearts beating. Oxygen is the fuel that turns on energy production. Without oxygen, we could not make energy. Yet the production of energy can wreak havoc in the body because it also produces free radicals. The antioxidants network defends the body against free radicals. There are literally hundreds of naturally occurring of antioxidants. However, there are 5 key antioxidants:

  1. vitamin c
  2. vitamin e
  3. CoQ10
  4. lipoic acid
  5. glutathione

These are the network antioxidants. They work together to bolter and strengthen the entire system. These antioxidants are special because they can regenerate, one another after they have quenched a free radical, vastly extending their antioxidant power.

Free radicals constantly form almost everywhere in the body at an astonishing rate. If free radicals are not quickly trapped, they can cause a great deal of trouble. Free radicals can attack and oxidize DNA, the genetic material that controls cell growth and development, which can increase the likelihood of cancer. When these unstable molecules target fat molecules traveling in the bloodstream, they set the stage for heart disease and stroke. Therefore, free radicals can promote the downward spiral of disease and premature aging. As we age, the antioxidant network becomes overwhelmed with work. One reason is that our antioxidant levels decline. Also, pollution, smoking, poor diet, and other unhealthy influences may have added to the free radical challenge confronting the antioxidant network. [3]

Ingesting antioxidants has the potential to protect and improve the function of our minds and bodies. However, the medical community has not embraced ingesting antioxidant supplements. The following is a quote from Making a Good Brain Great:[4]

Most medical students are taught that people do not need vitamins and supplements. If you eat a balance diet, they are told, you get all the nutrients needed. I was told this in medical school, and the mantra is still being disseminated twenty-seven years later. The one problem with this advice is that no one I know have a balanced diet…Having reviewed the medical research on prevention and supplementation, I take high-potency multiple vitamins every day, along with extra vitamin C and E, ginko biloba, alpha-lipoic acid, phoshphatidal serine, acetyl-l-carnitine, CoQ10, and fish oil…These preventive actions are a part of my life because enough research supports use of these strategies to have the best brain and body possible… One of the keys to a great brain is to use prevention and supplementation strategies as early and wisely as possible.

Of course it would be preferable if science had unraveled all of the mysteries of the universe and we knew exactly what to do to live the highest quality life possible. However, I am alive now. I am getting older every day and I have to make choices now concerning how I am going to live my life, regardless of the maturity of the medical community and scientific research.

Checkout this article: Consumer Demand For Antioxidants Has Outpaced Scientific Knowledge

This is where I question our approach, as a community, to creating and maintaining wellness. We have excellent evidence in favor of supplementing diet with antioxidants, the health benefits appear to be astounding, the risks are minimal, and yet we are not actively promoting use of antioxidant supplements. In fact we are actively, deter people from utilizing antioxidants to obtain excellent health. In 2010, Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice had a class action lawsuit filed against it concerning the claimed health benefits.

 Checkout this article: Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice Class Action Lawsuit Complaint

Pomegranate Juice is an antioxidant, because of this it may be a wonderful aid in obtaining excellent health. 

Checkout this article: Pomegranate Juice May Clear Clogged Arteries

Ambiguity is part of life. Apart from medicine, I often have to make choices with incomplete information. We all have to deal with ambiguity. However, in the case of medicine there is little tolerance for ambiguity. We, as a community, care so deeply about health that we fail to make logic decisions in the face of incomplete information. Instead we default to what is established and accepted. So… this is where bravery comes in. You can live according to what you understand and stretch to gain a greater understanding, or you can follow the limitations of the status quo of your time.

Additional evidence of the benefits of antioxidants have been provided by SPECT scans, single photon emission computed tomography. A SPECT scan is nuclear medicine tomographyic imaging technique that uses gamma rays. SPECT scans are very new. They have provided a window into the inner working of the mind.

What are Brain SPECT Imaging Scans? | Amen Clinics

The following is a quote from Making a Good Brain Great:[5]

A number of studies have shown that dietary intake of antioxidants from fruit and vegetables significantly reduces the risk of developing cognitive impairment. The research was done because it was theorized that free radical formation plays a major role in deterioration of the brain with age. When a cell coverts oxygen into energy, tiny molecules called free radicals are made…When produced in toxic amounts, free radicals damage the body’s cellular machinery, resulting in cell death and tissue damage. This process is called oxidative stress.

In numerous places in the book, Dr. Amen refers to the benefits of antioxidants to brain function.  The following quote stood out:[6]

The prettiest brains I have seen are those on ginko. Ginkgo biloba, from the Chinese ginko tress, is a powerful antioxidant that is best known for its ability to enhance circulation, memory, and concentration.

Supplements have to power to improve brain function.

Psychiatrist Dr Daniel Amen prefers natural treatments

Brain function is critical:

Daniel Amen – Change Your Brain Change Your Life 1-8

The following in the antioxidant supplement regimen that was recommended by Dr. Packer:

The Antioxidant Advantage Supplement Regimen[6]

 

Your A.M. Supplement Regimen

 

                Vitamin E Family – tocotrienols (100 mg)

 

                Vitamin E Family – mixed tocopherols (200 mg)

 

                CoQ10 (30 mg)

 

                Lipoic Acid (50 mg)

 

                ester vitamin C (250 mg)

 

                Folic Acid (400 mcg)

 

                Biotin (300 mcg)

 

                Vitamin B6 (2mg)

 

                Selenium (200 mcg)

 

Your P.M. Supplement Regimen

 

                Vitamin E Family – natural alpha tocopherol (200mg)

 

                Lipoic Acid (50 mg)

 

                ester vitamin C (250 mg)

 

                Ginko Biloba (30 mg)

 

While I acknowledge that supplementing my diet with antioxidants is not a practice that is recognized and accepted by all of the medical establishments, I will be taking antioxidant supplements myself. I want to have a brilliant mind and an healthy body. I hope this article has given you more context to think through whether you want antioxidants supplements to be part of your regimen.


[1] The Antioxidant Miracle, page 9


[3] The Antioxidant Miracle, page 16-17, 21, 24


[4] Making a good brain great, pg 192


[5] Making a good brain great, pg 97


[6] The Antioxidant Miracle, page 188