The real purpose of alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
is to produce energy. It plays a crucial role in the energy-producing structures in every cell of the body. Simply put, it converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy so you can live. The body makes enough ALA on itís own to perform this basic function, and there is usually little left over for it to perform itís other function, as an antioxidant (as it does when there is excess in circulation). The excess is usually created when someone is supplementing their diet or injecting it, since there isnít any one single food that has tons and tons of ALA in it. (See food sources*) This antioxidant function is the purpose of ALA I will be talking about in this article. The benefits currently being studied and discovered are very promising. The research is still in the early stages, but this potent antioxidant may someday be seen as a very important supplement. When acting as an antioxidant, Alpha Lipoic Acid
prevents disease and combats the aging process by neutralizing free radicals, which damage cells. Some such age-related diseases may include: heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and stroke to Parkinsonís and Alzheimerís; as well as symptoms of memory loss, and declined energy, muscle strength, brain function, and immunity. It also preserves brain function by protecting brain and nerve tissue from free radical damage, since it crosses the blood-brain barrier so easily. Lastly, ALA is thought to work as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage. Preliminary studies suggest that it helps peripheral neuropathy caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy, or by conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease, and kidney failure. Other conditions ALA has been linked to are:
∑ liver disease
∑ eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and problems with the retina and symptoms of diabetic nerve problems
Foods containing ALA (even though itís not much) are spinach, broccoli, peas, Brewerís yeast, brussel sprouts, rice bran, potatoes, and organ meats. These foods coincidentally are also high in antioxidants and phytonutrients. So, consume often!
The topic of anti-aging always creates a lot of interest and attention. Research has found that the answer to delaying, and even reversing, the aging process is to prevent the inflammation and oxidation of cellsóoxidative stress (a condition where the body basically has too many free radicals). This is done by consuming or supplementing with foods or drinks rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients (members of the antioxidant family). They travel about the body, when in plentiful supply, and ďeat upĒ the free radicals or oxygen molecules so they cannot do their damage. So, in a nutshell, consume anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods and drinks daily, and avoid pro-inflammatory foods and drinks at all costs. Some of these sources are:Anti-inflammatory
∑ Acai fruit (LOADED with antioxidants)
∑ Garlic, onions, leeks, chives
∑ Wheatgrass (green foods)
∑ Buckwheat, both seeds and grains
∑ Beans and lentils
∑ Hot peppers
∑ Nuts and seeds (the B vitamins)
∑ Yogurt and kefir (probiotics and healthy bacteria for intestines)
∑ Fish (example salmon--rich in omega-3s)
∑ Dark, deeply colorful veggies (tons of phytonutrients)
∑ Whole grains with plenty of soluble fiberPro-inflammatory
∑ Saturated and trans fatty acids
The icing on the cake is to engage in certain healthy habits in your overall lifestyle. Along with the improvement in your diet, add these changes: donít smoke, get plenty of sleep, stay out of the sun AND use sunscreen, drink at least 5 glasses of pure water every day, and exercise regularly.
The last bit of information I would like to include is about some seemingly unrelated items that all support Alpha Lipoic Acid
and the function of it. They are CoQ10, GABA and the acai fruit. CoQ10 warrants mentioning because it functions similar to ALA in that its job is to produce energy in the cells. It is an antioxidant, and is especially found around the heart, since the heart creates and uses a lot of energy to function. So, having ample CoQ10 traveling in the body allows ALA to work more effectively at its other job as an antioxidant. GABA stimulates the anterior pituitary gland to secrete human growth hormone (HGH), which as we age, decreases. HGH is responsible for anti-aging effects on the skin and many other body parts and functions. Itís sometimes referred to as the fountain of youth. So, by increasing the intake of GABA, more HGH is released into the bloodstream, increasing fat prevention and muscle building, typically not seen in the aged. This GABA and ALA combination furthers the anti-aging goal inside and outside the body.
And lastly, the acai berry kept coming up, so I had to dig deeper. While researching sources of antioxidants, I found this berry to be especially unique. It is considered number one in the list of the Top 10 Superfoods containing powerful antioxidants. It is a deep purple colored berry, similar to a blueberry, found in regions of South America. Studies on this berry alone have proven its connection to anti-aging, and heart and brain health. Acai is sold as a juice, in a pill, or as the berry itself. Proportionately, size to effectiveness, this small wonder packs a huge punch, making it unlike any other fruit or veggie known to man. Much more research is being done on this wonder acai fruit; with results only to boost itís credentials and miraculous claims.