Most of us need more anti-oxidants and minerals in our diets — especially once you realize how beneficial they can be to overall health
If you’ve ever been to a farm, chances are you’ve seen an old wheelbarrow left outdoors for years at a time. It’s discolored and rusted through, ugly, brittle and weak.
Well, the same thing happens to your body as you get older. You can virtually rust from the inside out.
"There really are parallels to rusting — oxygen has the same effect on metal as it does on your body," says Rebecca Rice, vice president of communications with the health-food company Via Viente.
Loose oxygen atoms, called free radicals, are released throughout the system. When they glom onto other atoms or molecules, they can become highly corrosive. Which is where anti-oxidants are needed.
"The body naturally produces anti-oxidants. As a teen and in your 20s, your body produces them like crazy," says Rice, who received her bachelor of science degree in nutrition. "As you go into your 30s, 40s and 50s you’re not producing them like you used to."
"There’s a lot of research starting to come in on [the wellness benefits] of anti-oxidants," agrees Mark Herrin, owner of and a nutritionist at Sundrops on Oak Lawn Avenue. "We recommend anti-oxidants as a base instead of a multi-vitamin. You see all these benefits by neutralizing the free-radical molecules. It’s a good idea to get as broad a base of anti-oxidants as possible."
The proof, says Rice, is an equatorial region where 1 in 64 residents live to be more than 100 years old — and they subsist on diets rich in anti-oxidants.
Chronic inflammations of all kinds — from arthritis to asthma to digestion — are a leading cause of pain and disease. Anti-oxidants bolster the immune system and decrease inflammations, as do omega-3 fats.
"Those are critical," says Herrin. "Everybody who reads this needs to take fish oils. Your body needs it to reduce inflammation and the kinds of oils we mostly get increase inflammation."
The kind and amount of anti-oxidants you can use will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. Runners, Herrin says, need more anti-oxidants than weight-lifters who are trying to bulk up. Dark blue and purple berries fall under a large banner called flavonoids, but within that category are many different classes that target specific goals. Tart cherry is especially effective at increasing muscle strength during exercise, while green tea is in a separate category. But everyone will benefit.
Like Herrin, Rice preaches the gospel of good health in broad strokes. And while she touts the specific benefits of Via Viente, she believes any way you can get healthy whole foods into your system is a good thing.
"You need five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day," she says, whether that’s through foods, juices or vitamin supplements. "Pomegranate juice is the new superfood — the star food on the scene. Drinking cherry juice is good, too," as is red wine.
Rice counsels people to read labels carefully and know what they are getting. Try to find juices without added sugars, or that are whole foods (purees of skins, pulp and seeds) for the most complete health effects. Her favorite statistic: Five one-ounce servings of fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent.
In addition to anti-oxidants, Rice promotes the need to get essential minerals into the body.
"Minerals get your metabolism going and keep your energy high," she says. "There have been studies that blood pressure will even go down."
"Minerals are essential," echoes Herrin, who notes they work with enzymes to build muscle and reduce appetite.
Asked for one piece of advice for good nutrition, Rice doesn’t hesitate. "Everything’s about moderation and balance, but you need to get you’re anti-oxidants — wherever you can," she says.
ViaViente is currently available only through independent agents. For more information, visit ViaViente.com.
Sundrops Vitamin Superstore, 3920 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-521-0550. Sundrops.com.
ON PINS AND NEEDLES
The practice of acupuncture has been around for 5,000 years, but that doesn’t mean its procedures can’t enter the modern age.
Dr. Karim Harati-Zadeh of Spectrum Chiropractic & Acupuncture is a firm believer in the effectiveness of acupuncture — he performs it on himself at least once a week — but his practice now includes the most contemporary of diagnostic instruments.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into points along the body that represent meridians along which chi, or life energy, flows. The meridians mostly correspond to organs in the body that in turn affect everything from digestion to stress.
It used to be that treatment required the patient’s feedback, but the electro meridian imaging device (EMI) has changed that.
The EMI digitally measures the electromagnetic frequency of the main meridians, graphing which ones are weak or out of balance, says Harati-Zadeh.Treatment is then tailored to concentrate on the specific points that need to be stimulated or balanced.
The readings sure seemed accurate. When Harati-Zadeh inserted several needles in me, I could sense where three points of entry felt irritated; later, when he performed the EMI test — it looked like a Sharpie attached to an EKG machine — the readings were off the charts at exactly the same places I had specified. The printout even advised Harati-Zadeh which acu-points he should attend to maximize the therapeutic effect of the treatment.
"When I started a year ago, I was the only one certified in Dallas to do this," says Harati-Zadeh. "It’s definitely changed everything. I don’t purely depend on what a patient tells me."
And anytime a doctor takes the guesswork out of treatment, it’s a good thing.
Spectrum Chiropractic & Acupuncture, 3906 Lemmon Ave., suite 214. 214-520-0092. SpectrumChiropractic.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 20, 2009.