All Health's Breaking Loose:

Forty days and 40 nights — that's what we set aside to create a feeling of optimum health and beauty in my Wellness Boot Camp. It's a chance to reinvent your lifestyle to create a disease-resistant body that looks and feels better than ever. My campers often ask me why I don't recommend vitamins as part of such a comprehensive program. Instead, we focus on “super foods” to allow the body to thrive. Just as there are many reasons why I prefer to nourish the body with food rather than vitamins, there are also many cases where taking vitamins is appropriate. Whatever your feelings about vitamin use, I wanted to let you know about a new study that really caught my eye.

This week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that a team of researchers from the University of Jena in Germany tested men who exercise, giving them some doses of antioxidant vitamins (C and E). The team, led by Dr. Michael Ristow, found there was little to no improvement in insulin sensitivity nor assistance to the body's natural defense against oxidative damage. Reading this, many health-conscious gym-goers are surely saying, “Wait a minute — I take antioxidant vitamins to help nourish my body so I'll age at a slower rate.”

Taking vitamins to help the body get rid of oxidative stress does seem to make sense, but this study explains it like this: Exercise helps muscles to metabolize sugar, and in so doing some oxygen molecules escape and cause chemical damage to anything in the way. We see this cell or oxidative damage as “aging.” The study suggests that these reactive compounds are an inevitable byproduct of exercise, and are a natural trigger for the body's defense mechanism against oxidative damage and sensitivity to insulin. When taking large doses of antioxidant vitamins, yes, the reactive oxygen is efficiently destroyed, but this short-circuits the body's natural response to exercise.

Dr. Ristow said, “If you exercise to promote health, you shouldn't take large amounts of antioxidants.” He went on to say “antioxidants in general cause certain effects that inhibit otherwise positive effects of exercise, dieting and other interventions.” He added that the advice does not apply to fruits and vegetables. Another expert, Dr. Ronald Kahn of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, said “the effects of vitamins on exercise is quite significant. If people are trying to exercise, this is blocking the effects of insulin on the metabolic response.” Try as we may, we can't outsmart the complex intelligence of our amazing human body. As Hippocrates suggested, food IS our medicine. Whether you've set aside 40 days or not, food is the best means of fortifying your body.

I'll see you in two weeks.

Love & health, Loa

LOA BLASUCCI can be reached at

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