Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Food as Medicine

Obviously, those of you acquainted with our practice understand our apathy, enmity, and overall antipathy toward vitamin supplements. Indeed, this multi-billion dollar industry preys upon the physical sensitivities of the American public in hopes of achieving youth, beauty, and prowess.

All the health claims are truly without merit! Look in all the great medical textbooks and you'll see that there exist only a handful of documented vitamin deficiencies, quickly remedied with ascorbate, niacin, milk, or folate.

Humankind -- over our million year evolutionary path -- has developed a keen capacity to integrate all manner of food sources into the necessary building blocks of life. Stuck on a desert island, one would likely obtain all items required for healthy living. Stuck on Manhattan island, one would not only find those items, but additional products leading to the hyper -nutrition state known as obesity. The healthiest societies tend to be thin, e.g., vegetarian Swami's and yogurt-drinking Uzbeki's.

Aside from scurvy, beri-beri, or rickets, are there any true diseases which could be treated with a specific food? Recent data suggest that some Alzheimer patients may benefit from ingesting a ketone-laden beverage each morning. There is a newly developed food product known as caprylic triglyceride, which has been shown to increase cognitive functions in certain types of Alzheimer patients. The theory goes that Alzheimer's disease represents a disorder of a brain cell's ability to take up and transport glucose. Kind of like a broken turnstile in the subway station which prevents passengers from getting in. Providing this alternative food source allows one essentially "to jump the turnstile" In fact certain types of PET scans have corroborated this concept of deficient CNS glucose metabolism in Alzheimer's.

The greedy human brain requires lots of nourishment -- consuming up to 20% of all blood sugar and oxygen. That's why you feel light headed often before hunger pangs set in. Neurobiologists have known for quite some time that the brain can utilyze ketones as an alternative to glucose. During starvation, ketone bodies provide the principle source of brain energy -- hence the sour ammonia breath when you've skipped a meal or two. Seems like "Mother Nature" was the original inventor of a hybrid vehicle. Scientific development of ketone-based products may overcome some of the Alzheimer-related problems of deficient glucose transport, hence alleviating some broken brain functions.

Thus, a new era of medical intervention is upon us whereby foods not medication may offer exciting options in the management of certain disease states. Maybe Grandma Gelblum's homemade chicken matzoh ball soup has some commercial application after all...

posted by Neuroblog at 3:06 PM


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