Life Extension Magazine March 2008
As We See It
Why a 100% Effective Diet Pill Would Lead to a Health Catastrophe
By William Faloon
A local television personality I have known for years called to state he was finally ready to take every supplement I recommended. “Why the change?” I asked. It turned out that this television personality had developed full-blown type II diabetes.
My response was not what this shaken, newly diagnosed diabetic expected. I first related how I reduced my own calorie intake by mentally classifying most foods as “poisons.” Instead of viewing dangerous foods as treats, I instead visualize the damage inflicted on my DNA with each bite. Even when I succumb to culinary temptations, I now typically spit out the first bite and discard the dangerous food in the trash. Seeing garbage food in the trash (instead of feeling it in my bloated belly) conveys a sense of empowerment.
I told the TV personality: “You know what foods have made you diabetic. If you are unable to psychologically view these food groups as lethal toxins, there is little I can do to help you now.”
Just 45 days later, I received a pleasant call. My stark lecture about eating oneself to death had such a powerful impact that this TV personality changed his diet and lost 25 pounds. “Now,” I told him, “was the time to design a supplement program to improve insulin sensitivity and help protect against diabetic complications.”
Ignore Mass Media Advertising
People today are inundated with endless temptations to overeat unhealthy calories. A recent study at Cornell University documented something that most of us long ago came to realize. In a variety of settings, Cornell researchers showed that people are powerless to resist overeating if foods are visible and convenient. It turns out that hunger and good food are the last reasons why people overeat.1 Another recent study shows that specific changes happen in our brain when we are tempted with foods. These neurological alterations help explain the difficulties humans face when trying to follow a healthy diet.2
We now know that humans experience cravings for food, even when not hungry. Food industry promotion is thus analogous to how tobacco companies intentionally addicted customers during most of the previous century. For those who believe the government should protect consumers against dangerous industry practices, one could argue that a ban on unhealthy food advertising might save as many lives as today’s restrictions on cigarette advertising. Despite the well-known dangers of cigarette smoking, bad diets cause even greater numbers of cancers and other diseases.
My advice for Life Extension members is to regard most foods as poisons that will cause unimaginable suffering and premature death if not avoided. I realize how challenging food aversion can be when constantly being tempted throughout the day. The best advice I can give is to imagine how one’s life can come to a grinding halt once a serious disease such as cancer or stroke manifests. We know that eating sensibly reduces disease risk in people of all ages, so it is never too late to start healthy dietary practices.
Our Bloated Bloodstreams
Think for a moment how miserably uncomfortable your digestive tract is when you overeat. You may remember the old Alka-Seltzer® TV commercials that featured middle-aged people holding their stomachs saying, “I ate too much.”
The bloating effect that happens in our stomach and intestines in response to overeating also occurs in our bloodstream. When the blood is engorged with excess sugar and unhealthy fats, severe oxidative and inflammatory damage is inflicted to the inner arterial wall (the endothelium).3-7
Doctors have been slow to recognize the degradation in endothelial function that occurs every time we engage in gluttonous indulgence. Published studies have clearly documented the unfavorable arterial alterations that occur after eating just one high-calorie unhealthy meal.8-11 Now multiply that over a lifetime and it becomes apparent why so many humans succumb to vascular disease.
The injury imposed on the arterial wall after ingestion of unhealthy foods causes both acute and chronic pathologies. A man may be temporarily rendered impotent when his blood is bloated with saturated fats and sugars, while the long-term effect is systemic atherosclerosis.
So just imagine if the public had access to a pill that enabled them to eat all they wanted and never gain a pound. One lethal result would be skyrocketing cancer rates due to the DNA damage caused by both synthetic and natural mutagens that are ubiquitous in our food supply. The population would simultaneously suffer an even greater epidemic of endothelial dysfunction and arterial blockage caused by eating too much.
We are going to discuss an exciting new diet pill that has demonstrated better weight loss results than anything we found over the past 28 years. What we are not going to say, however, is that taking this pill will enable you to lose weight by following unhealthy dietary practices.
Restoring Youthful Calorie Fat Burning
For a variety of reasons, humans tend to accumulate excess fat as they enter middle age. One cause of age-associated weight gain is a slowdown in the rate at which our cellular mitochondria burn fats.
Reductions in mitochondrial fat-burning result in cell energy depletion that contributes to the fatigue and weight gain that aging humans encounter.
In the past, agents that have induced metabolic fat-burning have demonstrated mixed weight- loss results, with unpleasant reactions to their over-stimulatory effect being one reason why people could not ingest such supplements every day.
Life Extension was recently granted permission to briefly review confidential, top-line results of a clinical study pending peer-review publication in a leading scientific journal.
A novel plant extract called fucoxanthin was discovered by Japanese researchers and shown to induce between 10 and 12 pounds more weight loss compared with placebo over a 16-week period in women who consumed 1,800 calories per day. This study also showed beneficial changes in metabolic parameters including visceral body fat. Visceral body fat is a type of fat that surrounds the abdominal organs like the liver. Excess amounts of visceral body fat are linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. If the study was carried out for a longer period, the weight reductions would theoretically continue.24
The primary mechanism of fucoxanthin’s weight-loss action is accelerated fat-burning (thermogenesis) at the mitochondrial level.25,26 This plant extract was also shown to inhibit cells from storing more fat in culture studies, and particularly to reduce abdominal fat in other in vivo studies.26,27 In addition, it has been demonstrated that fucoxanthin markedly decreased blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations.26,28
In another human trial, investigators were able to document significant increases in energy expenditure in response to ingestion of fuxoxanthin plus pomegranate seed oil after 16 weeks, compared with placebo.29 Unlike previous agents of this type, no central nervous system-stimulating effect occurs.
Reducing Blood Flow to Fat Cells
Aging is characterized by an increase in adipocytes (fat storage cells). Like benign tumors, adipocytes too often over-proliferate in maturing adults, contributing to the excess accumulation of body fat, particularly in the abdomen.
A special pomegranate seed oil has been shown to specifically interfere with the capillary network that feeds adipocytes. When administered to lab animals, pomegranate seed oil induced weight loss and fat reduction. The scientists who conducted this research concluded that this natural agent provided implications for the prevention of obesity.30,31
Don’t Let Diet Pills Shorten Your Life Span
We are excited about the prospects of these new plant extracts helping people to better manage their weight. We cannot lose focus, however, on the critical need for aging humans to eat a healthy calorie-controlled diet and stay physically active.
For many decades, unscrupulous companies promoted fat-loss products that claimed you could eat as much as you wanted and still lose weight. The reality is that most of these commercial formulations provided little in the way of meaningful fat loss.
A perfect biological diet pill would turn on genes at the cellular level to rid the body of excess fat cells and then help restore our youthful contour.
While the development of a truly effective fat-loss pill would result in a short-term reduction in obesity-related disease, the deadly effects of people chronically overeating (since they would not have to worry about weight gain) would cause a long-term health catastrophe greater than the epidemic of overweight and obesity does today.
The first article in this month’s issue discusses the science behind these two new plant extracts.
If you are overweight, and expect this pill to reduce body fat while you continue making poor dietary choices, then you have missed the entire point of this editorial. If, on the other hand, you want to increase your healthy life span by making the right food choices, then these plant extracts that safely increase mitochondrial fat-burning while reducing adipocytes, could significantly enhance the weight-loss effects of following a healthier lifestyle.
Real World Benefits
In my most recent conversation with the TV personality, he reports that he has been able to maintain his healthier weight by avoiding the “poisonous foods” I scared him away from.
The best news is that his doctor has proclaimed he is no longer a diabetic and that his blood pressure has been reduced without the need for prescription medications. He attributes the reversal of his diabetic condition to the dietary modifications I frightened him into making, the insulin-sensitivity restoring nutrients he began after losing the weight, and his modest increase in physical activity.
It is my hope that those suffering the ill effects of a poor diet will alter their perception and view unhealthy high-calorie foods as poisons that should be avoided. Those who choose to supplement with the new plant extract compound should enjoy additive fat-loss benefits.
For longer life,
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