For at least the last 40 years most of us have been taking vitamin and mineral supplements and have been doing and feeling somewhat better. Almost daily now, there is more and more information on the function of some nutrient and on it's place in the overall scheme of health. But I've got a question! If these nutrients fill their allotted functions, then why don't they seem to work the same for everyone? In other words, they seem to help some people and not to work at all in others! Is there some underlying thing that allows these nutrient substances to perform their actions? Are vitamins, minerals and herbs the do all-end all of attaining wellness or, are they the bricks and cement that must be placed on a solid foundation before they can take up their tasks solidly?
Let's redefine some terms. In 1913, Dr. Funk discovered nutritional substances he called "Vital Amines" or Vitamines for short. Without getting into biochemistry it turns out that vitamins are not amines but coenzymes, substances that help enzymes to work. An enzyme is a huge protein that speeds up chemical reactions. Without enzymes, chemical reactions would happen so slowly that life would not be able to exist at all. The human body has some 3000+ enzymes and over 7000 enzymatic reactions. Most folks think of enzymes as being involved only in digestion. This is among the last things that enzymes do. Of all the enzymes in the body, the protein cleaving (or cutting-eating) ones are the most important.
These have 5 primary actions, they:
- Reduce inflammation
- Balance the repair mechanism and prevent fibrosis, (the buildup of scar tissue)
- Clean the blood
- Modulate the immune system
- Fight Viruses
Folks who do not experience the beneficial reactions expected from their coenzymes (vitamins) possibly don't have the enzymes that the coenzyme is supposed to help! The human body produces a finite amount of enzymes. From the age of 27 on, that enzyme production begins to wane. Dr. Max Wolf, an MD with 7 other Ph.D.'s after his name, researched enzymes and hormones at Columbia University from the 1930's through the 1960's. He found that round about 27, most people stop making as many enzymes as they used to and that this event started the cycle of aging. In physiology we are taught that old age begins at 27!
The progression of aging goes like this:
About age 27: Enzyme production drops - 27-35 marks the time when most of our aches, pains and arthritic changes begin to set in. Fibrosis begins building in the organs, blood vessels and muscles. Immune function begins to lag which is further complicated by high stress lifestyles. Blood begins to become thicker and harder to circulate. From 35 to 45 the drop in enzymes and stress of lifestyle causes a reduction in the all-important sexual hormones of testosterone and progesterone. Sex drive, mental drive, zest for life, bone density, muscle mass and overall energy go down significantly. At 45, we begin to have trouble absorbing the nutrients we need to maintain the 4 types of tissue we have in our bodies and these tissues begin to break down and malfunction. Here also, from lack of proper eating and exercise complicated by smoking or air pollution, our blood is as thick as catsup. We don't have great circulation and oxygen is not getting everywhere we need to get it to! Especially up to our brains.
From 50 through 60, we lose an estimated 10% muscle mass a year so that by the time we are 60 we are at bare bones minimal muscle mass to move us around - getting out of bed, off the potty or out of a deep chair becomes a chore. If the thighs and pelvic muscles, which are the strongest ones in the body, are weak and have trouble getting you up then how are the other muscles doing? From 60 onward, our internal organs begin to shrink and further malfunction. That goes as well for the brain. The brain is 60 to 70% cholesterol. Everything we think with is based on a fat linked to a protein. If we are lacking the good fats needed to produce neurotransmitters that the brain needs to maintain itself, then it begins to shrink and malfunction. If you've ever seen the MRI picture of an Alzheimer patient's brain, it looks like a dried, shrunken, cracked jello mold someone left out on the kitchen table under a ceiling fan for a week!
The last 30 years of the low cholesterol craze has done nothing to lower the rate of heart disease and everything to increase the rate of the formerly rare Alzheimer's! Look in any Alzheimer's ward, are there any fat people there? How do we stave off these ravages? If we are in the midst of them, how do we slow their progress down? And how do we make the vitamins and minerals we are taking work better. We need to go back to the beginning of the degeneration and replace what we're missing. Let's touch again on why vitamins, minerals and herbs alone don't work. Let's look at the lives or deaths rather, of some of the greatest nutritional teachers and practitioners of our time: Dr. Paul Kellogg - heart attack. Dr. Bernard Jenkins - prostate cancer. Dr. Carlton Fredericks - lung cancer. Dr. Pavo Aerola - stroke. Dr. Paul Bragg drowned after being knocked unconscious in the water by his surfboard at the age of 93! What differentiated Dr. Bragg from the rest?
Look at the bodies of some of the better known nutritional teachers and "natural" doctors now... go ahead think of them. Their faces and pictures are on books and television constantly. Are they severely overweight? Or, are they so thin and worn that they look as if they've just stepped out of a Siberian prison camp? If taking all of these good vitamins, minerals and herbs do it all then why did Kellogg, Jenkins, Fredericks and Aerola get sick and die. Why are the current gurus of "integrative medicine" overweight or emaciated, why don't they look like Dr. Bragg did, a handsome, muscular, vibrant man, glowing with energy and power even in his 90's. Here we go back to Dr. Wolfs' work and we start with, you guessed it, enzymes. If we maintain a high enzyme intake as in our young years, then we would hold off the changes that low enzyme levels precipitated. This is what Dr. Bragg did through his mainly raw fruit and vegetable diet, he replaced or substituted for many of the enzymes his body lagged in making.
This kept his hormone levels high throughout his life. Testosterone maintained the size and mass of his bone structure, his muscle mass and most importantly his brain. In men it has been found that the brain structure known as the medial amygdala is larger that it is in women. This is where a man's drive and zest for life come from. As men age and testosterone levels go down (round about 35 to 45), estrogen levels go up. This causes the medial amygdala to shrink and with the shrinking goes a man's mental energy. A man in his 50's has more estrogen than his wife! High estrogen levels bring depression, anger, weight gain, lack of libido, mood swings and decreased erection size. We now know that it is estrogen that converts to the dreaded hormone Di Hydro testosterone (DHT) that wrecks our prostate and causes us to lose our hair! (Studies have confirmed this - swollen prostates and severe hair loss don't happen to testosterone dominant men in their teens and 20's).
With women, the drop in progesterone levels to near 0 before and after menopause causes much the same effects, i.e. lack of mental drive, depression, moodiness, loss of bone and muscle mass, weight gain, etc. For decades, MD's have concentrated on the estrogen after menopause. While it is true that estrogen levels in these women are lower than they previously were, their progesterone and testosterone levels are practically nonexistent, making them still estrogen dominant. Estrogen is the fuel that sparks fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer, uterine fibroids and cervical cancer. OK, so we did not do what Dr. Bragg did and eat enzymes from a young age. So, once they are gone, we'll need to replace them.
Oxygen. We have been 'plagued' by all the nutritional data about antioxidants for at least 15 years, leading most folks to think that oxygenation is a bad thing. The strongest antioxidant you can find is to wrap your lips around a tailpipe! Life is an oxidative process! All disease states arise from, are fed by, or are complicated by a lack of oxygen. Oxygen not only feeds tissue and is vital to life, oxygen will also; kill viruses, burn bacteria, singe yeast, and dissolve cancer. Disease states are anaerobic. All diseases hate oxygen. Cancer cells for example, feed off of glycogen (anaerobic respiration), and die in the strong presence of oxygen! Part of a healthy immune system is to have the circulation, rich red blood cells and clean thin blood needed to carry oxygen throughout every inch of the body. This kills off anything that may be thinking of festering in an area due to the lack of sufficient oxygen.
So we add Oxygen to our mix.
Finally, we need to have an efficient outside to effectively and painlessly carry our efficient insides around! For this, aerobic training will not do. All of the jazz exercise, yoga, karate aerobics, and even swimming and walking simply will not do. For this we have to strength train! Mind you, I said strength training not body building. There is a huge difference I'll get to explain in a bit. First let's look at something known as Wolfes' (a different Wolf this time) physiological law. A physiological law is an uncontested truth. That's the way it works - no questions about it! Wolfes' law states: "Mineralization is laid into bone along axial lines of stress." What that means is that unless we compress hard, tug hard and yank hard on a bone, it will not fill well with minerals or maintain it's mineral mass. Most MD's think Wolfes' law can be fulfilled by simple weight bearing, as in walking - they are dead wrong.
For one thing, while walking, what weight bearing do the arms, shoulders and mid back do? How can they benefit from the walking? For another, the first principle of exercise is that a muscle prefers to get its exercise in its primary range of motion in as great a range of motion as it can safely do. This will stress the bones sufficiently to produce the adaptive response of mineralizing. Walking has a mere 13 degrees of range of motion at the hip and knee when the hip is capable of 160 degrees of range and the knee 135 degrees. So how much exercise is 13 degrees? Not much. For walking to be a good exercise in bone building for the pelvis and lower extremity, you would have to be going very fast up hill both ways...coming and going. Not likely to happen.
Now - what's this difference between strength training and bodybuilding? Bodybuilding bloats muscles through a process known as hypertrophy and does not produce a lot of strength for the size. Real strength training, on the other hand, produces dense strong muscle through a process called hyperplasia. Do any of the lightweight Olympic weight lifting champions look like bodybuilders do? No. Do the men in the "Worlds Strongest Man" competitions look like bodybuilders? No. Look at the bantam and lightweight class of Olympic lifters. Yet these small men and women are some 3 to 4 times stronger and more able than the biggest of bodybuilders. We are not going for kissable beautiful biceps.
We are shooting for useable strength for the Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) and:
- to keep our circulation up,
- our bones strong,
- and very importantly increase the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells.
The energy we use for everything in our lives is produced by mitochondria. It is these furnaces of the cells where Adenosine Tri Phosphate is produced (ATP). ATP is the sugar everything in our bodies is powered by. Most all of the ATP in the body is made in the muscles. The brain uses 33% of the body's daily energy, the eyes 33% and the remainder of our body gets the rest! If we have lowered numbers of mitochondria, as in Mononucleosis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue or due to age and loss of muscle, then all of our energy is significantly reduced and we are in a fog. The only thing that can significantly increase the number of mitochondria in our bodies is STRENGTH TRAINING. Period. And yes, I know that for the last 20 years the medical emphasis has been on the aerobic training of the heart.
Again research now shows that couch potatoes are living as long as their marathon running cousins and, that runners are dying of heart disease anyway while they sink their immune systems and wreck their joints with all the aerobic work! As we age, frame strength becomes more important than heart endurance. When was the last time you ran after the postman because he forgot to pick up a letter? But you arise from bed, the toilet and chairs every day. Strength is important not only in maintaining the circulation to our extremities but to perform all of the activities of daily living from blow drying our hair, to serving the table, to picking the skillet up from that bottom shelf! Let's put this all together: When we only take vitamins, minerals and herbs, as important as they are, we are skirting around the outside of the essentials for health.
If we just take supplements and not replace the enzymes we are wasting a good bit of money, expectation and time. If we don't raise our levels of the sexual hormones, i.e. progesterone and testosterone, then we cannot stop or reverse the bone and muscle loss; we'll be depressed, gain fat and have no drive for life. If we don't have high levels of circulating oxygen, we'll have disease grow and fester throughout our bodies and have low energy and shortened life span. If we don't maintain our frame, we can forget the rest of the program as it will give out and contract disease regardless of whatever else we do.
So again, the cornerstones of life and wellness are:
Enzymes from juicing, raw foods and most importantly from supplementation. We need the supplements because the most essential enzymes for avoiding or combating the catastrophic diseases are the enzymes that we may no longer make as much of. Pancreatin is essential in the prevention and fight against all cancers and inflammations. Eating raw pancreas and meat is out of the question. So, we have to find the finest enzyme supplement and take it liberally. Today systemic enzymes are the greatest on the planet! Progesterone and testosterone. With simple saliva tests we can determine just how low or off we are in our hormone balance and then safely supplement the loss with topical creams that are natural and without side effects.
Testosterone has gotten a bad rap in the last 20 years as a cancer producer and aggression maker. The latest research shows the truth. Natural testosterone; protects the heart from disease, is the greatest antidepressant known, maintains sex drive, bone mass and muscle mass, lowers cholesterol and levels of body fat, protects the prostate and maintains mental drive! Life Flo makes the purest most utilizable proto - hormone supplement creams on the market today. The Progesta Care for women and the Andro-Edge are the products to look for.
Oxygen. We first clean the blood with the enzymes. Then we make the blood rich with oxygen carrying red blood cells. We then increase the circulation by opening up clogged blood vessels with enzymes and then make miles and miles of new blood vessels through weight training. On top of that, to make sure we are always oxygen rich to fight off disease despite air pollution and all the other negatives, we'll supplement with a rich oxygen source. Aerobic 0-7 and K 0-7 are the industry standards for oxygen supplementation. Finally we'll shore up our frames and boost our energy producing structures with strength training. This will lessen the incidence of injury, maintain our bone and muscle mass, increase our circulation, lubricate the joints, feed our brain better and give us the ability to carry ourselves around for life without being a burden to ourselves and others. Does all that sound reasonable? Well stay tuned. We're in this for Life!
Dr. William Wong is a Texas State Naturopathic Medical Association professional member, World Sports Medicine Hall of Fame member, a Classical Naturopath, a Ph.D. Exercise Physiologist, a Certified Athletic Trainer (AATA), a Certified Sports Medicine Trainer (ASMA), and a Health/Fitness Consultant. Dr. Wong has more than 23 years of professional experience in natural health, as applied to sports medicine and rehabilitation, with the last 12 devoted almost exclusively to chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Dr. Wong has authored books on natural healing and has taught Physical Medicine at the South West College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona. His shorter writings have appeared in such diverse magazines as G.Q., Black Belt, Survival Guide, The Townsend Letter for Doctors, and Well Being Journal. In 1993, he was also inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Wing Chun Kung Fu Instructor of the Year.
Dr. Wong has been a guest on over 500 national and local radio programs, as well as appearing on the nationally acclaimed PBS series Healthy Living hosted by Jane Seymour. In November 2002, Dr. Wong appeared on the Heartbeat of America show hosted by William Shatner. Currently, using a blend of movement, nutrition, exercise and spirituality, Dr. Wong is specializing in developing programs for longevity and virility to help people overcome the effects of aging and the after effects of chronic debilitating conditions.
Dr. William Wong and his wife Michele are devoted to bringing forth information on new and effective natural treatments for chronic illnesses, teaching little known information about exercise and spreading their philosophy on what they've found to be the cornerstones of a healthy and active life.