Life Extension Magazine November 2005
The Perricone Weight Loss Program
By Nicholas V. Perricone, MD
SUPERSTAR SUPPLEMENT #8: CHROMIUM
Chromium is a critical nutrient in our effort to control and reduce excess body fat. By supplementing our diets with chromium, we can effectively lower blood sugar and insulin levels—the key to the anti-inflammatory weight-loss diet. The reason people are overweight is because they’re in an inflammatory state that has put a “lock” on their fat-burning mechanism. Our goal is to reverse this. Chromium helps decrease inflammation, thereby unlocking the enzymes that aid in fat metabolization. Chromium not only affects blood sugar and insulin levels, it can also help normalize blood lipids such as triglycerides and cholesterol, increasing levels of the HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides, making it cardioprotective.
Experts in the field of nutrition report that the general population of the United States is deficient in chromium, and low levels of chromium are associated with type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies have also been published noting that increased consumption of sugar depletes our body stores of chromium, placing us at further risk for hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia (too much blood sugar, too much insulin).
I suggest 100 micrograms (mcg) per day for the average person over 40 and up to 200 mcg per day for those on the Perricone Weight-Loss Diet.
SUPERSTAR SUPPLEMENT #9: GAMMA LINOLENIC ACID (GLA)
GLA is an important omega-6 essential fatty acid. The average Western diet has an excess of the omega-6 EFAs. And this is true when we are speaking of linolenic acid, found in many vegetable oils, grains, and seeds. However, GLA is an omega-6 that is well worth taking in a supplemental form. The body rapidly converts GLA into dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), the precursor of prostaglandin E1, a powerful anti-inflammatory hormone-like compound that helps to regulate inflammation, blood pressure, and many other bodily processes. Because of the increased production of prostaglandin E1, GLA has been found in many studies to lower total cholesterol, as well as lower blood pressure. GLA can also increase the metabolic rate, an effect that causes the body to burn fat, resulting in weight loss.
The average American diet causes a deficiency of GLA because of the large amounts of trans fatty acids, sugar, red meats, and dairy products that are consumed. GLA is very difficult to find in the diet, but is found in high amounts in borage, black currant, and evening primrose oils.
200 to 400 mg of GLA per day—one to two 1,000-mg capsules of borage oil.
SUPERSTAR SUPPLEMENT #10: GLUTAMINE
Glutamine is an extremely important dietary supplement for anyone wishing to lose weight. It is an amino acid that is classified as “conditionally essential,” meaning that we are able to synthesize it, but only within certain limits that are controlled by a variety of factors (including the dietary supply of the appropriate precursors and the maturity and health of the individual). Glutamine is primarily stored within muscles and is the body’s most abundant amino acid. (Amino acids are the basic building blocks of a protein. There are 20 different amino acids commonly found in proteins. There are eight essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Our bodies actually need 20 different amino acids, but we are able to make the other 12 kinds from these eight, which we must get from food.)
While the majority of the glutamine we need is synthesized in our muscle cells, we can also obtain a significant amount of glutamine from several dietary sources, including poultry, fish, dairy products, and legumes.
However, under certain stressful conditions, glutamine is used up very quickly and our body cannot make as much as it needs. For example, prolonged and intense cardiovascular workouts, such as running and aerobics, can cause the body to burn muscle for energy, exhausting our glutamine supply.
It appears that glutamine plays an important role in keeping the muscles functioning properly and in helping to reduce muscle deterioration. One reason is that glutamine is the only amino acid that contains two nitrogen molecules. Because of this additional molecule, glutamine can transport, or shuttle, the nitrogen to where it is needed most. Nitrogen is one of the building blocks of muscle cells; glutamine is the delivery system for getting the nitrogen to those cells. Glutamine can also transport excess nitrogen out of the body—a critical function because nitrogen can act as a toxin. The optimal state for muscle growth is when glutamine is working properly, and nitrogen intake is greater than nitrogen output.
When we are overweight and in an inflammatory state, we need even more glutamine—so the body breaks down the muscle tissue to get the extra glutamine it needs—and we lose muscle mass. Making sure we have enough glutamine enables us to both lose weight and retain muscle mass.
Glutamine plays a number of vitally important roles in many other functions as well. It is absolutely essential to the support of our immune system and immune response, where it is utilized by white blood cells. Glutamine is also anti-catabolic, which means that it is critical in the prevention of muscle breakdown caused by extreme stress, including physical trauma or injury, severe burns, disease, mental or psychic stress, overwork or overexertion, poor nutrition, and dieting.
Glutamine has such extraordinary anti-catabolic properties that is has been used to help prevent stress ulcers in severe burns. Scientists have also found that patients who have had major surgery or trauma do not lose muscle mass during the recuperative period when they are given supplemental glutamine, even if they are inactive! This prevention of muscle breakdown is the reason that I so strongly recommend that you take glutamine throughout the day as part of the anti-inflammatory diet.
Glutamine is also very supportive of our digestive system. The health of the gut is of critical importance because it is the point of fuel and nutrient entry. Glutamine nourishes the cells that line the stomach, intestines, and digestive track, which actually use glutamine as a fuel. Studies have shown that supplemental glutamine may protect against aspirin-induced gastric lesions and enhance healing of painful peptic ulcers. In fact, an old folk remedy for ulcers is fresh cabbage juice—which is high in glutamine. Glutamine may also be helpful in healing the stomach problems arising from colitis and Crohn’s disease. In summary, glutamine can be used whenever there are any stomach problems, as simple as overindulging in alcohol (alcoholic-induced gastritis) to ulcers, viral-induced diarrhea, or even severe problems such as inflammatory bowel disease.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of glutamine to our body’s antioxidant system. In combination with other amino acids,
N-acetyl cysteine and glycine, glutamine promotes the synthesis of glutathione in the liver. Glutathione is the body’s primary antioxidant defense system; it is required for the smooth functioning of all cells. It is involved in protein synthesis, amino acid transport, and in the recycling of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C. In fact, it is so effective in preventing inflammation in the body that glutathione is being used to treat people with HIV infection who suffer from high levels of inflammation and body wasting.
Glutamine will reduce cravings for high-glycemic carbohydrates and will make your weight-loss program much easier. Glutamine can help prevent both depression and fatigue and can also help us synthesize neurotransmitters in the brain, which naturally relax us while elevating our mood. In the brain, it is converted to glutamic acid and increases the concentration of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Both glutamic acid and GABA can be considered “brain fuel,” as they are essential for normal mental function. Studies have also shown that glutamine supplementation helps prevent the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain and may also reduce alcoholic (as well as food) cravings.
One-half teaspoon of glutamine dissolved in water three times a day.
SUPERSTAR SUPPLEMENT #11: MAITAKE MAGIC
The Maitake SX-Fraction™ is a special supplement derived from the maitake mushroom. There is a solid body of scientific evidence establishing it as a powerful tool in preventing metabolic syndrome, a dangerous quartet of metabolic imbalances that increase our risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: 1) high blood pressure, 2) elevated levels of insulin, 3) excess weight (especially around the abdomen), and 4) “dyslipidemia” (low levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, high levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides [meta-bolized dietary fats that end up in our blood, organs, and tissues]). Metabolic syndrome is a by-product of Americans’ sedentary lifestyles in conjunction with an inflammatory diet high in sugars, starches, and processed “junk” foods.
The Maitake Grifron SX-Fraction™ has been developed based on a newly discovered active fraction from the Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) in collaboration with Harry G. Preuss, MD, of Georgetown University.
The study at Georgetown University started in 1997 based on a previously discovered compound, X-Fraction, which Japanese scientists demonstrated had anti-diabetic activity. Searching for a better compound, researchers developed an improved method to successfully fractionate and identify another active compound from maitake, named SX-Fraction.™ Studies on SX-Fraction™ have been conducted at Georgetown University and New York Medical College. Results show that SX-Fraction™ does indeed possess a more potent ability to enhance insulin sensitivity for controlling blood sugar levels and lowering high blood pressure than X-fraction. This is another exciting, therapeutic tool to add to our arsenal of substances that can positively affect out-of-control blood sugar and all of its negative ramifications.
Leading experts believe that the Maitake SX-Fraction™ may be very helpful not only in prevention, but also for those who suffer from chronic disorders associated with the aging process due to malfunction of blood glucose/insulin metabolism. A recent study conducted at four clinics in Japan gave 33 diabetic people, who were on a stable drug regimen, nine tablets of SX-Fraction™ daily. Both blood sugar and cholesterol markers were improved significantly. In addition, they lost six pounds in a two-month period, without dieting. While this is not dramatic, it is statistically significant and future studies may show that in addition to preventing metabolic syndrome, SX-Fraction™ may serve as a safe and reliable weight-loss supplement—even without additional behavior modifications, such as decreased caloric intake and increased exercise.
It appears that the Maitake SX-Fraction™ may be the first dietary supplement of this kind specifically targeting metabolic syndrome with abundant scientific validation behind it. And the research continues to this day.
Maitake SX-Fraction™ Tips
I recommend that you select the Grifron SX-Fraction™ of Maitake Mushroom Extract Supplement because this is the standardized product used in the studies. For general support for healthy blood sugar maintenance, take one tablet within 30 minutes after each meal. For maximum impact, you may double or triple the general dose.