Nutrition, Diet, and Supplements
John D. FurberMaster of Science in Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine.
Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Mathematics, University of California, Santa Cruz.
[ John D. Furber Home page ]
[ John Furber's Supplement List ].
(Updated 5 February 2023)
In order to sustain life, we consume food, which contains nutrients, which supply energy and building materials to our cells. Carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins are called macronutrients. Smaller quantities of micronutrients are also required. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. In addition to nutrients, a healthy diet contains water, fiber, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and signaling molecules. A diet composed of a combination of natural foods can supply all of the necessary macronutrients and fiber, as well as many of the micronutrients and antioxidants. Dietary supplements can be purchased which provide additional vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and antioxidants. Especially important are vitamins D, C, and E, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), and alpha-Lipoic acid.
Research into aging and longevity is indicating that lifespan might be increased and aging might be slowed by following a diet which is very low in calories, but contains enough micronutrients and extra plant polyphenols and antioxidants. This is referred to as "calorie restriction", "CR", "dietary restriction", or "DR". At least CR and exercise can reduce excess accumulations of harmful fat.
It is worth remembering that individual people may differ somewhat in their needs and in their ability to assimilate various foods and supplements. Optimal dose probably varies with age, weight, gender, and genetic background. It is important to pay attention to your own body as you experiment with your diet and lifestyle.
Good FoodsFoods in the following list are especially beneficial to eat frequently, because they are very high in antioxidants, nutrients, or cancer-preventing components:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) contain fiber and glucoraphanin, believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer. Broccoli is also a good source of lysine, an essential amino acid. Furthermore, broccoli contains sulforaphane, which increases levels of phase 2 enzymes in liver cells.
- Tomatoes (cooked or raw) and tomato sauce contain fiber and carotenoids including lycopene and beta carotene. They are also high in vitamins C and B-complex. Carotenoids are oil-soluble anti-oxidants. Cooking tomatoes with olive oil makes the lycopene much more available to your body.
- Colored berries, such as Blueberries, strawberries, purple grapes, cranberries, elderberries, wolfberries (goji), and other fresh or frozen fruits contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, polyphenol signaling molecules, fiber, and vitamins. Berries which have been cooked must be eaten right away or they lose their potency.
- Oranges and tangerines contain flavonoids that inhibit proliferation of cancer cell lines.
- Green tea, white tea, and black tea (Freshly prepared; not bottled or canned) are very high in antioxidant polyphenols that can cross the blood-brain barrier. These polyphenols also chelate excess iron, which provides further protection from oxidative stress. Tea is also a source of manganese.
- Carrots (cooked or raw) contain fiber and antioxidant carotenes.
- Raw nuts and pumpkin seeds contain protein, fiber, omega-3 oils, and antioxidants. Raw walnuts help to prevent endothelial inflammation, protecting arteries from the effects of saturated fats in the diet.
- Whole grains: brown rice, oatmeal, and other whole grains contain fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
- Allium vegetables: (garlic, onions, scallions) (raw or barely cooked) are reportedly beneficial to the cardiovascular system and may prevent some cancers.
- Spinach (cooked or raw) is high in antioxidants, folic acid, and lutein. It may be the highest food source of lipoyllysine (13 micrograms/g dry weight), which is a natural variation of alpha-Lipoic-acid.
- Tofu and tempeh are high protein foods made from soybeans. Tofu is a good source of lysine, an essential amino acid. Soy activates cancer-fighting genes.
- Essential omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax seeds and raw walnuts, as well as some seaweeds and cold-water fish.
Flax oil or freshly ground flax seed (raw, never heated; keep flax oil refrigerated) is very high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. You can grind flax seeds in a coffee grinder. However, the omega-3 fatty acids in flax are less available to our bodies than the longer chain omega-3 fatty acids, called EPA and DHA.
The oil extracted from some varieties of algae is very high in EPA and DHA.
The best that I have found so far is from
Cold-water fish, such as Salmon or Salmon oil also contain long-chain, essential omega-3 fatty acids (EFA and DHA), because they live in cold water. But avoid Tuna Fish, because they live in tropical waters, so they do not have much omega-3 fatty acids.
Also, smaller fish, such are salmon, are not top-predator fish, so they do not accumulate so much dangerous mercury in them, compared with larger fish. This is another reason to avoid Tuna, because they are large, top-predators, and they live in tropical waters.
Vegetarians can avoid killing salmon, while obtaining the health benefits of essential omega-3 fatty acids, by eating algae oil or plenty of flax oil, freshly ground flax seeds, and raw walnuts.
- Nutritional yeast (such as Red Star or Milwaukee Food Yeast) is a good source of B-vitamins and chromium.
- Turmeric (Indian spice) contains curcumin, which has antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities. It seems to be helpful for inflamed joints and tendons, such as arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Turmeric also appears to help fight off colon cancer and prevent Alzheimer's dementia. Turmeric absorption and utilization is enhanced by eating it with oily foods, and by combining with a small amount of black pepper in the same meal. [Shoba]
- Black pepper contains piperine, which increases the gastrointestinal assimilation of other supplements and drugs [Shoba]. It is also an antineoplastic agent [MeSH].
- Vinegar with a meal helps to slow the conversion of starches into simple sugars. This can reduce the spike in blood sugar and insulin after eating starches. Cinnamon with a meal is also helpful in regulating blood sugar levels.
Recipes on the Web
Foods and Drugs to Avoid
- MSG or Monosodium glutamate may be neurotoxic for some people, especially infants.
- Aspartame or NutraSweet may be neurotoxic for some people, especially infants.
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils are even worse for your heart and cardiovascular system than saturated fats in meat and dairy because hydrogenation produces trans-fatty acids, which cause atheroscelerosis.
- Iron supplementation should generally be avoided unless prescribed for iron-deficiency anemia. Iron promotes oxidation and free-radical damage to cells and membranes. Iron may interfere with the absorption of other vitamins. A balanced diet of natural foods provides plenty of iron for most people. If you take supplementary iron, do NOT mix it with your vitamins. Children are especially vulnerable to brain damage from excess iron.
- Acetaminophen, paracetamol, or Tylenol is a liver toxin. It is especially dangerous in high doses or when taken on the same day as alcohol.
- Empty calories: Avoid eating most white flour products, white rice, corn chips, soft drinks, sweet snacks, and sweet cerials. Those which lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber are called "empty calorie foods." They contribute to rapid aging, fat gain, glycation, and possibly the development of diabetes.
- Large predator fish, such as tuna, swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish, contain dangerously high levels of mercury because they concentrate the mercury from the smaller fish that they eat.
- The herb, Aristolochia, contains aristolochic acid, which binds to DNA, causing kidney failure.
- The herb, comfrey, contains toxic chemicals that harm the liver and may be carcinogenic.
- Tobacco smoke generates free radicals in the blood and in the lungs, promoting the development of several diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases, hardened arteries, and heart attacks;
- Lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer;
- Blindness from macular degeneration.
Dietary SupplementsA good diet of healthy foods can be augmented by purchasing dietary supplements, which provide additional vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and antioxidants. Especially important are vitamins D, C, and E, NAC, and alpha-Lipoic acid. If you want to know what I am personally taking in my ongoing self-experimentation, and where I buy them, click here ==> [ John Furber's Supplement List ].
Supplement Storage: For long-term storage, freshness is best preserved by freezing. However, opening a cold jar of powder or pills will cause immediate moisture condensation from the air, quickly ruining the contents. So any jar which has been frozen must be allowed at least an hour to come to room temperature before opening it. I keep about a two-week supply of everything at room temperature, so that I can refill my daily supply each morning. Everything else goes in the freezer.
It's a good idea to put a few silica gel packets into your supplement bottles to help keep the contents dry. You can bake the packets in an oven for an hour at 210 F to redry then and reuse them. You can find sources by Googling silica desiccant, or you can reuse packets from the vitamins you buy.
Nutrition Information SourcesYou can educate yourself by visiting your local public library and medical school library. And you can learn about medical research results and current scientific thinking in the field by searching the online databases for relevant biomedical journal articles:
- PubMed provides access to the Medline database of Biomedical journal articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- The Mayo Clinic Food and Nutrition Center.
- The Mayo Clinic also has a guide to Herbs, Drugs, and Supplements.
- USDA - US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Information Center
- USDA - US Department of Agriculture Nutrient Data Laboratory website.
- USDA - US Department of Agriculture USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 contains information on the nutrient content of 7,412 different foods.
- US NIH - Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health http://ods.od.nih.gov/index.asp
- FDA - US Food and Drug Adminstration Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition.
- The Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University was co-founded in 1973 by Linus Pauling. The institute's mission includes "to determine the function and role of micronutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals in promoting optimum health and preventing and treating disease; to determine the role of oxidative and nitrative stress and antioxidants in human health and disease." They have an informative website at http://lpi.orst.edu
- The Vitamin Research Products site has a library of review articles on the benefits of various dietary supplements, although there may be a pro-supplement bias because VRP profits from the sale of supplements.
- Juvenon has information about acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-Lipoic acid, which are contained in their "Juvenon Energy Formula". http://www.juvenon.com/
- Nutrition: A Reference Handbook, by David A. Bender and Arnold E. Bender (Oxford University Press) 1997, is a very useful reference book.
- I have compiled a detailed, 20-page report, "Nutrition, Diet, and Supplements for Peak Physical & Mental Performance." In it, detailed descriptions are provided for each ingredient, with references to an extensive bibliography of books and journal articles. It also lists the least expensive sources of quality ingredients, suggests how to mix them, and the best times of day to take them. Additional information is provided on proteins, amino acids, fats, carbohydrates, and hormones. To obtain a copy of the latest version, please send a check or money order for $ 4 per copy plus $4 per order t o c o v e r p o s t a g e a n d h a n d l i n g to my address at the bottom of this page.
- Dietary Supplement Information Bureau is the industry trade group. The web site contains information. http://www.supplementinfo.org/
- Eat Smart, Jean Carper's column in USA Weekend magazine, contains readable and mostly good suggestions. Archives are at http://usaweekend.com/food/carper_archive/index.html. She also has her own Stop Aging Now website http://www.jeancarper.com/
- Vitamin Information and microphotographic images of vitamin crystals by Molecular Expressions and Florida State University. http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/vitamins/index.html
- Molecular structural models of vitamins from the Indiana University Molecular Structure Center http://www.recipnet.indiana.edu/common/Vitamins/quickguide.htm
- Amino Acids Information and microphotographic images of amino acid crystals by Molecular Expressions and Florida State University.
- The UCLA Human Biochemistry and Nutrition Lab Nutrition page links to various useful publications including Nutrition Bits and Nutrition Bytes.
- Yahoo! Nutrition links.
- Additional medical literature research links.
- Bender, David A., Arnold E. Bender. Nutrition: A Reference Handbook. (Oxford University Press, 1997).
- Guyton, AC (M.D.). Textbook of Medical Physiology. (W.B. Saunders Co., 8th ed., 1991) Reliable textbook and reference used by many medical students.
- James A. Joseph, Ph.D., Daniel Nadeau, M.D., and Anne Underwood. The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health. (Hyperion Books, 2002).
- Lehninger, AL. Principles of Biochemistry. (Worth Publishers, Inc., 1982) A bit old, but generally reliable textbook and reference used by many medical students and researchers.
- Stryer L, Berg J, Tymoczko J. Biochemistry. Fifth Ed. (W.H. Freeman & Co.) Reliable textbook and reference used by many medical students and researchers. Well illustrated.
- Weinsier, RL and SL Morgan. Fundamentals of Clinical Nutrition. (Mosby, 1993).
- Roy L. Walford, M.D. Beyond the 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years. (Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000).
- Anderson, Richard, et.al. Diabetes. 4 Nov 1997.
- Bender David A., Bender Arnold E. Nutrition: A Reference Handbook. (Oxford University Press) 1997.
- Brownson C, Hipkiss AR. " Carnosine reacts with a glycated protein", Free Radic Biol Med 2000 May 15;28(10):1564-70.
- Bucala R, Cerami. A. "Advanced Glycosylation: Chemistry, Biology, and Implications for Diabetes and Aging," Advances in Pharmacology, Volume 23. (1992) pp. 1 - 34.
- Chen, Honglei, et.al. Archives of Neurology. 2003;60: pp. 1059-1064 (related editorial pp. 1043-1044)
- Cole H. Enzyme activity may hold the key to cataract activity, JAMA. 254(8):1008, 1985.
- Commission E. The Complete German Commission E Monographs, Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, 1st ed. 1998, Integrative Medicine Communications, pub; Bk&CD-Rom edition, 1999.
- Consumer Reports. 2005 Jan; pp 22 – 25.
- Decker EA, Ivanov V, Zhu BZ, Frei B. " Inhibition of low-density lipoprotein oxidation by carnosine histidine", J Agric Food Chem 2001 Jan;49(1):511-6.
- Dysken M. A review of recent clinical trials in the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia, Psychiatric Annals. 17(3):178, 1987.
- Finch CE. Longevity, Senescence, and the Genome. (University of Chicago Press, 1990) A comprehensive and reliable reference by a respected professor at the University of Southern California.
- Gallant S, Semyonova M, Yuneva M. "Carnosine as a Potential Anti-senescence Drug", Biochemistry (Moscow), Vol. 65, No. 7, 2000, pp. 866-868.
- Guyton AC (M.D.). Textbook of Medical Physiology. (W.B. Saunders Co., 8th ed., 1991) Reliable textbook and reference used by many medical students.
- Health Effects of ω3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Seafoods. Ed. by Simopoulos, Kifer, Martin, and Barlow. (Karger, 1991)
- Hipkiss AR. "Carnosine and Protein Carbonyl Groups: A Possible Relationship," Biochemistry (Moscow), Vol. 65, No. 7, 2000, pp. 771-778.
- Hirsch MJ, Wurtman RJ. Lecithin consumption increases acetylcholine concentrations in rat brain and adrenal gland. Science. 202:223-5, 1978.
- Holliday R, McFarland GA. "A role for carnosine in cellular maintenance." Biochemistry (Mosc) 2000 Jul;65(7):843-8.
- Joseph JA, Nadeau D, Underwood A. The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health. (Hyperion Books, 2002). Excellent guide by eminent researchers.
- Kinoshita JH. Invest. Opthalamol. 4:786-99, 1965.
- Knyihar-Csillik E, Vecsei L, Mihaly A, Fenyo R, Farkas I, Krisztin-Peva B, Csillik B. Effect of vinpocetine on retrograde axoplasmic transport. Ann Anat. 2007;189(1):39-45. PMID: 17319607
- Lehninger AL. Principles of Biochemistry. (Worth Publishers, Inc., 1982) A bit old, but generally reliable textbook and reference used by many medical students and researchers.
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/
- Liu J, Killilea DW, Ames BN. Age-associated mitochondrial oxidative decay: Improvement of carnitine acetyltransferase substrate-binding affinity and activity in brain by feeding old rats acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-a-Lipoic acid. PNAS. 19 Feb 2002 p. 1876-1881.
- Marx J. Anti-Inflammatories Inhibit Cancer Growth -- But How? Science. 26 Jan 2001 p. 581-582.
- Mayo Clinic Health Oasis. http://www.mayohealth.org
- MeSH. Medline Subject Heading http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Paolisso G, et.al. Magnesium and Glucose homeostasis. Diabetologia. 33:501-514, 1990.
- Pauling, Linus. How to Live Longer and Feel Better. (WH Freeman/Avon 1986) Pauling discusses Nutrition, Orthomolecular medicine, EDTA, chelation. He suggests vitamins C, E, A, and B, minerals Zn, Ca, Fe, I, Cu, Mg, Mn, Mb, Cr, and Se, low sucrose diet, exercise, drink plenty of water. "Work at a job you like. Be happy with your family." Pauling believed we are safer to use vitamins and nutrients that our bodies have evolved with, rather than drugs and plant substances that our bodies are not used to. I do not find this argument persuasive, and in fact, Pauling himself favored EDTA chelation therapy, which we have not evolved with, after he read scientific studies of the use of this powerful chemical.
- Pearson D, Shaw S. Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach. (Warner Books 1982) Discusses exercise, vitamins, antioxidants, hormones.
- Pearson D, Shaw S. The Life Extension Companion. (Warner Books 1984).
- Prasad KN, Kumar B, Yan X-D, Hanson AJ, Cole WC. alpha-Tocopherol succinate, the most effective form of Vitamin E for Adjuvant cancer treatment: A review. J. American College of Nutr. 2003, Vol 22 (2): 108-117.
- Rand VM, Young VR. Statistical Analysis of Nitrogen Balance Data with Reference to the Lysine Requirement in Adults. J. Nutr 1999 Oct; 129(10):1920-6. Review article.
- Rubin E, Farber JL. Pathology. (J.B. Lippincott Co., 1988) Medical textbook.
- Sano, Mary (Columbia University). New England Journal of Medicine, 24 April 1997.
- Scheffler, Immo E. Mitochondria. (Wiley-Liss 1999).
- Segal P, Kahn C. Living Longer, Growing Younger. (Times Books/Random House 1989) A biologist talks about the history and future of life extension research, especially neuroendocrine control, fetal cell transplants, cloning organs, cryonics, and regeneration.
- Sen CK, Tirosh O, Roy S, Kobayashi MS, Packer L. A positively charged alpha-Lipoic acid analogue with increased cellular uptake and more potent immunomodulatory activity, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. vol 247 (1998) pp. 223-228.
- Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-356.
- Staal FJT, Ela SW, Roederer M, Anderson MT, Herzenberg LA, Herzenberg LA. Glutathione deficiency and human immunodeficiency virus infection, The Lancet. April 11, 1992, pp. 909 - 912.
- Stryer L. Biochemistry. Fourth Ed. (W.H. Freeman & Co. 1995) Reliable textbook and reference used by many medical students and researchers. Well illustrated.
- Stuerenburg HJ. "The Roles of Carnosine in Aging of Skeletal Muscle and in Neuromuscular Diseases", Biochemistry (Moscow), Vol. 65, No. 7, 2000, pp. 862-865.
- Walford RL (M.D.). Maximum Lifespan. (WW Norton/Avon 1983) Summary of aging research, including SOD and pituitary effects, effects of lowered body temperature and low calorie diet. Recommends aerobic exercise, low calorie diet, vitamins B, C, E, antioxidants BHT, cysteine, methionine, selenium, positive mental attitude.
- Walford,Roy L. and Lisa Walford. The Anti-Aging Plan.(Four Walls Eight Windows, 1994) Nutrition information, recipes, and food preparation tips.
- Wang AM, Ma C, Xie ZH, Shen F. "Use of Carnosine as a Natural Anti-senescence Drug for Human Beings", Biochemistry (Moscow), Vol. 65, No. 7, 2000, pp. 869-871.
- Weil, Andrew (M.D.). Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-Care. (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1990). Excellent, readable, and reliable advice on diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
- Weil, Andrew (M.D.). Spontaneous Healing. (ISBN: 0-679-43607-3).
- Weinsier RL, Morgan SL. Fundamentals of Clinical Nutrition. (Mosby, 1993).
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- Wu K., Willett W., Fuchs C., et al. Calcium intake and risk of colon cancer in women and men., J Natl Cancer Inst. (2002), vol. 94, pp. 437 - 446.