Antioxidants: Things You May Already Know And Some Things You Probably Don’t!

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Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. What’s a free radical you ask? A free radical is a harmful molecule that causes damage to the body’s cells and may contribute to aging. Some experts believe that this damage also plays a role in the development of some diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer. Free radicals come from a variety of sources. They come about naturally as by-products of normal body processes or when certain medications are metabolized. You are also exposed to free radicals through pollutants in the air.

A useful metaphor to understand antioxidants and free radical damage is to think of the paint on an old car. As the paint is exposed to the elements, it slowly breaks down or becomes oxidized and you can see the effects of the oxidation in the way the finish looks faded and dull. Think of free radical damage as having a similar oxidative effect on your cells, and antioxidants as protection from that damage which happens on a continuous basis through daily living.

Vitamin C and vitamin E are considered antioxidants as is the mineral selenium and plant based nutrients known as flavonoids. Of course, eating lots of fruits and vegetables are a good source of these antioxidants. Berries in particular are high in antioxidants (especially blackberries and blueberries). Also notably high in antioxidants are apples, plums, prunes, grapes, raisins, oranges, peaches, mangoes, melons, and artichoke hearts. Walnuts and pecans are also high in antioxidants and of course dark chocolate is famously high in antioxidants. But there are also many culinary herbs that are incredibly potent antioxidants, so the more of these herbs you add to your food the better! Many of them have other added benefits as well. Some examples of antioxidant herbs that do double duty…

  • Cloves have antimicrobial properties and are the strongest of all the antioxidant culinary herbs
  • Cinnamon is a potent antioxidant and also helps metabolize sugar
  • Oregano has antibacterial and antioxidant properties and can speed up the production of white blood cells
  • Turmeric and ginger are potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herbs

Other culinary herbs that are good sources of antioxidants are cumin, dried parsley, curry, sage, mustard seed, black pepper, thyme, marjoram, and chili powder so spice it up! India is known for having a lower incidence of most diseases, possibly because of the heavily spiced foods common in the Indian diet. So make your way to Bombay Clay Oven or Little India here in Denver for some curry or masala. Or better yet, learn to cook some delicious Indian dishes at home! Onward with our antioxidant discussion….

Dr. Shah’s favorite antioxidant is astaxanthin which is a red carotenoid. It is a uniquely superior antioxidant because it filters into every cell of the body. And its unique molecular lipophilic and hydrophilic properties allow it to saturate the entire cell, protecting both the fat soluble and water soluble parts of the cell. A 2007 study found it to be 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10, and 550 times stronger than green tea.

Astaxanthin is what makes salmon, shrimp, lobster, and crab pink or red in color. Astaxanthin also has a variety of other benefits in addition to being a great antioxidant. A naturally derived supplement made from microalgae is the best way to get all of the benefits. Eating the seafood mentioned above gives you a little but doesn’t give you enough to be considered a therapeutic dose. There have been hundreds of medical research experiments showing the health benefits of astaxanthin supplements sourced from microalgae as well as extensive safety trials. And unlike beta-carotene, an orange carotenoid, astaxanthin never becomes pro-oxidant or damaging to the body in higher doses. Just make sure you are taking a supplement with only microalgae as the source of astaxanthin. 12 mg per day is an optimal dose, however it is expensive so you may want to take less.

The other benefits of super-antioxidant astaxanthin:

Relieving pain and inflammation—Similar to the often prescribed drug Celebrex for arthritis and acute pain, Astaxanthin has been proven to block the COX2 enzymes responsible for pain signaling but without the risk of addiction, heartburn, or GI bleeding. It has also been proven to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) by more than 20 percent in only 8 weeks. (CRP is a marker for inflammation and the American Heart Association names it as a key indicator of heart disease.)

Eye health—Astaxanthin has the unique ability to reach your retina with its antioxidant goodness. Clinical trials have shown that it helps with retinopathy, macular degeneration, eye strain, and even helps you read fine print. Dr. Shah has noticed the improvement in his eyesight since taking Astaxanthin.

Great skin and sunscreen protection—there are consistent studies showing that Astaxanthin is excellent for helping maintain skin moisture, smoothness, and elasticity. And it actually reduces UV damage from the sun so take it with you (along with your sunscreen, of course) to the beach or your favorite Colorado hiking trails!

So there you have it, folks! Hopefully you have learned something you didn’t already know about the wonderful world of antioxidants. If you have any questions about antioxidants or nutrition, please drop us a line at info@drmanishshah.com. (Note: Dr. Shah has no financial interest in the manufacture or sale of any astaxanthin products.)

Omega-3’s… What are they and why are they good for you?

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February is Heart Health Month!

Should I take an Omega-3 supplement for my heart or should I just eat more fish? What if I am vegetarian or vegan? And what are the other benefits of Omega-3’s?

No doubt by now you’ve heard a lot about Omega-3’s. You may have wondered—should I take a supplement? If so, does it really matter which brand I choose? Or should I just incorporate more Omega-3’s into my diet? What exactly do they do? What if I’m vegetarian or vegan and don’t want to eat fish or take a fish oil supplement?

Well, wonder no more! Here’s an all-inclusive look at how Omega-3’s function in the body and what diseases they may help you to stave off, as well as information about increasing your Omega-3 intake whether you are vegetarian/vegan or not.

Omega-3 fatty acids regulate cellular processes as well as producing and balancing hormones. Hormones are critical to the proper functioning of all the body’s systems. Think of them as messengers who tell the body and the brain what to do as far as metabolizing food, sleeping, mood, reproduction, and so on. Omega-3’s also increase cell membrane permeability for better nutrient absorption into the cells and they also help keep toxins out of your cells for better cell health and longevity. Healthy fats are also important in helping the body absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, and E, and K (from food or from supplements).

Your body does not produce Omega-3’s, they come only from your diet or from supplements. There are two Omega 3’s, known as EPA and DHA. In addition to their role in hormone production and cell permeability, Omega-3’s are also anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the source of almost all disease including heart disease so increasing your Omega-3 intake is a great way to lower your risk of heart and other diseases.

The potential heart health benefits of Omega 3’s:

  •  Helps with lowering blood pressure
  • Helps with lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol
  •  Helps with keeping the heart beating regularly
  •  Helps reduce the risk of a heart attack
  •  Helps reduce the risk of stroke by thinning the blood

Some additional potential benefits of Omega 3’s:

  •  Can help with balancing blood sugar which helps curb sugar and carb cravings thereby lowering the risk of diabetes and obesity
  •  Supports myelin sheath strength (the fatty acid layer that covers nerve fibers in the brain)–this helps with brain synapse function for better mental focus and brain health
  • Can help with memory and with reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease which is again related to inflammation
  • Can help with ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia
  • Can help maintain a positive mood
  • Can help with mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder– for mood disorders, you should take a high EPA fish oil supplement
  • DHA supplementation was shown in one study to reduce stress and aggression
  • Can help with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis– for arthritis, it is best to take an Omega 3-6-9 combination supplement
  • Can help with gastro intestinal issues such as constipation, IBS, colitis, and Crohn’s disease—for GI problems, it is best to take an Omega 3-6-9 supplement

Consuming more wild caught fish, grass fed meat, and nuts (especially walnuts) is a great way to increase your Omega-3 intake although taking a supplement is an easy way to get a consistent, optimal dose. A 1000 mg. daily dose of fish oil (usually one soft gel) is probably sufficient if you don’t have a particular health problem although you can do up to 4000 mg. daily for maximum benefit or if you have a specific health condition. Fish oil soft gels can be frozen if stomach upset or “fish burps” occur.

If you decide to take a supplement, it’s important to take a high quality supplement. With cheaper brands, it’s likely that the oil was not kept cool during processing which causes it to oxidize and degrade. Once fish oil becomes rancid, it becomes pro-inflammatory rather than anti-inflammatory. Natural FactorsTM manufactures a cost effective, high quality Omega-3 supplement if cost is a concern. There are many other brands of high quality fish oil, however.

TIP! Take Vitamin C with your fish oil! It’s an inexpensive antioxidant that will help keep the fish oil fresh for maximum benefit as it travels through your digestive tract. And Vitamin C has the added benefit of helping build collagen to keep your skin looking firm and your blood vessels, muscles, and bones stronger!

Omega-6’s were mentioned earlier in reference to Omega 3-6-9 supplements. People are often confused about Omega-6’s. There are two, one called GLA and another called arachidonic acid. GLA is anti-inflammatory and most people do not get enough in their diet. Arachidonic acid is pro- inflammatory and most people get too much in their diet. So increasing both your Omega-3 and Omega-6 GLA intake helps to counteract the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid that most people get too much of in their diet. Another benefit of GLA is that it’s great for your skin. It can help your skin stay moist in our dry climate here in Denver and can help with skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Supplementation (borage or evening primrose oil) is the easiest way to increase your GLA intake although hemp seeds and hemp oil are good dietary sources of both Omega-3’s and GLA.

Finally, for people who are vegetarian or vegan it is even more important that you incorporate extra Omega-3’s into your diet as a vegetarian diet is typically low in Omega-3’s. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, the Omega-3 DHA is important for avoiding neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease which can be a higher health risk for vegetarians/vegans later in life. Eating lots of nuts can help, especially walnuts, as well as hemp seeds and hemp oil. And there are several vegetarian DHA supplements derived from algae although they are fairly expensive. Look for the brand name Ovega-3TM for a vegetarian supplement containing both DHA and EPA.

If you have any questions about Omega-3’s, you can send us an e-mail at info@drmanishshah.com.

Summer Skin Care – The Basics of Looking Good!

Well here in Denver, Winter is about to be over!  Signs of Spring are all over the place.  I’ll be going up into the mountains for one last hurrah on the slopes with the family.  Summer is the next hurdle for patients of Shah Aesthetic Surgery.  Being a mile up in the air makes for some brutal skin aging.  The air is thinner, colder, and dryer.  The sun is definitely more intense.

People age much faster in my opinion in this alpine desert environment.  There are things you can do about it, so don’t fret!

Here is a list of simple options for great Summer Skin Care:

1. Water – drinking water keeps your skin cells plump and protected.  Summer in Denver means more outdoor activity.  This means more sweating, so keep your water intake high to protect your skin.

2. Sunblock – I am a big advocate for high SPF sunblock.  I personally use a 55 SPF sunblock with UVA/UVB blocking capabilities.  While sunblock in makeup is a good idea, it just really isn’t enough protection up here in Denver since we really get intense sun exposure more than 275 days per year.

3. Vitamin C – this vitamin is really the most important vitamin for making new collagen.  Since is it water soluble 1000-2000mg daily is a safe dose.

4. Exfoliant usage – I am a fan of topical exfoliant serum usage.  Retinols and Vit C/E serums top my list.  I personally prefer Vit C/E because it more gently treats my skin and is safer in sun exposed populations. That being said, Retinols are the superior serum.  Just remember to wear good sunblock and protect your face with a big hat.

5.  Chemical peels – Winter’s cold, dry air has done a number on your skin.  You can recapture some of the ground lost in the war on facial aging by getting a chemical peel.  A chemical peel uses different safe organic acids to gently loosen skin and have it peel off.  This is a more immediate result than the use of exfoliant serums alone.  Depending on the strength of the chemical peel, you can have one as often as on a monthly basis.  Skin looks brighter with a more even texture when you get a chemical peel.  Heck, I even gently peel my own face.  If you see me in person, you’ll realize why I am such a fan.  They are easy to do, easy to recover from, are low risk, and give results!

6.  Eat cleanly – this is a no brainer!  What you put in your body shows in your skin.  Here in Denver, there is no shortage of good food.  I eat both natural and organic as much as I can.  It is expensive, yes, but well worth it when done carefully.  But, even if you shop at a conventional grocery store, you can make healthy choices that will benefit your overall health.  And, everyone knows that Healthy is a lot sexier than Unhealthy!

Now get to it!

Celebrity Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong at the Oscars 2014

I’m sure that anyone who saw Kim Novak or Goldie Hawn at the recent Academy Awards telecast was able to tell that they were the victims of Celebrity Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong!  As a fan of the natural look after plastic surgery, it is obvious that these two beautiful ladies do not share my viewpoint.  I understand the need to maintain a look that made you famous, but the reality is that the human body changes too much to try and mask aging.  If you have the genetics to age well, then you probably will age well.  If you don’t, you are going to need a lot of help.

When much of the plastic surgery world agrees that less is more, Hollywood continues to buck the trend and go for more is more.  The result, more often than not, is bad plastic surgery.  I’m sure it is very difficult for an A-list plastic surgeon to say no to their famous clientele, but they should start saying NO!  The Hippocratic Oath’s first pledge is to “Do No Harm.”  I think that there is incredible harm done to the reputations of these actors and actresses when their unreasonable quest for youth makes them ask for harmful or unreasonable things.

What is most difficult is the request by the everyday patient to look like a celebrity.  With their extreme visibility, especially in the age of social media, celebrities wield incredible influence on the style choices of the regular joe.  I have to talk patients out of things all the time because expecting to look like a certain celebrity leads to having severely unrealistic expectations.

Even in laid back Denver, Colorado, patients will ask to have the lips of Megan Fox, the nose of Jennifer Aniston, and the rump of J. Lo!  It’s tough to watch their dejected faces when I have to bring them back to reality.

Sometimes I wonder why they just can’t leave well enough alone! Aging gracefully is an art form that sometimes does benefit from the eyes and hands of a talented plastic surgeon…

Cosmetic surgery performed in an in-office setting

Did you know that many cosmetic surgery procedures can be performed in an in-office setting?

Here in Denver, Colorado, Manish H. Shah, M.D., FACS has perfected the process of performing many cosmetic surgical procedures in an in-office setting.  There are many reasons one might choose to have their cosmetic surgery performed outside of the hospital or surgery center setting.  The following is a list of reasons many of Dr. Shah’s patients have elected to have their procedures performed in his office:

1. They are afraid or anxious about general anesthesia safety issues

2. They are healthy enough for non-monitored procedures (no continous monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, or oxygen levels) – Level 1 anesthesia (Colorado Board of Medicine)

3.  They feel more comfortable with the idea of having their procedure using only Valium (or similar medication) for sedation/relaxation, and using local anesthesia (like at the dentist’s office.)

4.  They are interested in saving money!! (in-office procedures do not have anesthesiologist fees or facility/equipment fees associated with them)

There are many different procedures that Dr. Shah has performed using only sedation with Valium and local anesthesia here at his cosmetic surgery office in Denver/Englewood, Colorado:

1. Facelift (rhytidectomy)

2. Eyelift (blepharoplasty)

3. Ear pinning (otoplasty)

4. Nasal tip rhinoplasty – primary

5. Revision rhinoplasty

6. Non-surgical rhinoplasty

7. Mini tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

8. Reverse tummy tuck (reverse abdominoplasty)

9. Small area liposuction

10. Breast lift (mastopexy)

11. Breast implant revision

12. Laser resurfacing of the face, neck, chest, and hands

13. Chin implants

14. Scar revisions of all types

In fact, over 90% of Dr. Shah’s patients will have procedures performed this way.  With a yearly caseload averaging around a 1000 facial and body/breast surgical procedures, this means that many patients have had their procedures this way.

If you are interested in finding out more about your options with regards to cosmetic surgery performed in an in-office setting, please contact Jenny Romano of Shah Aesthetic Surgery in Denver, Colorado at (303) 708-8234.

How is Botox anti-aging?

Here at Shah Aesthetic Surgery in Denver, Colorado, we are huge fans of Botox from Allergan.  Botox is made from a highly purified protein toxin.  When injected in small quantities into facials muscles that cause wrinkles, the muscles weaken temporarily.  In their weakened state, they can’t produce the same amount of wrinkling. Most patients will see results lasting around 3 months.  If a patient is consistent with their Botox usage, those same muscles can atrophy.  This reduces their strength over time and reduces their wrinkling capability.  This usually means that they can lengthen the time period between injections.

When muscles don’t move, the skin wrinkles less making you look younger.  Patients will still need good anti-aging skin care and sunblock to keep the collagen and elastin in the skin as healthy as possible. Regular Botox treatments and medical skin care at Shah Aesthetic Surgery will keep you looking younger!

Your options for Liposuction in Denver, Colorado

Now that the weather is starting to get colder one of our favorite things to do is eat!!  I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but it makes me hungry.  I have a sneaky suspicion that it makes you hungry too!!  For most of us, this means a little weight gain.  Denver, Colorado is a pretty healthy place, but there are lots of us who can’t seem to get rid of areas of stubborn fat, no matter how much time we spend in the gym.  What kinds of options do you have, you ask?  The most effective way to remove those stubborn fat deposits is by having liposuction.  There are multiple types of liposuction performed here in Denver by Shah Aesthetic Surgery.

1. Standard – Standard liposuction uses manual suction techniques to suck out fat from trouble areas using small incisions placed in the skin.  It is fairly old-school and it’s use is limited.

2. Power Assisted – Power assisted liposuction (PAL) uses a mechanical device that oscillates like a little battering ram under the skin to make removal of fat a little easier and more aggressive.  Areas of tougher tissue are also more effectively treated using this technology.

3. VASER Assisted – VASER assisted liposuction (UAL) uses ultrasound energy to vibrate water molecules around fat cells under the skin causing them to explode and liquify.  It makes fat removal even easier, with less bruising.  In addition, the ultrasound generates heat that some feel helps tighten the overlying skin as it contracts, giving even better shape.  It is my favorite way to perform liposuction for body areas.  I will often combine it with PAL for maximum results.

4. Laser Lipolysis – Laser lipolysis, or, Smartlipo MPX by Cynosure, is a liposuction technology that use a small fiberoptic laser placed under the skin that melts fat and also help tighten skin.  It is a little more risky because it can heat the skin quickly so careful attention needs to be paid to avoid burns.  It is also one of the only treatments that show efficacy with the treatment of cellulite.  It is one of my favorite methods for fat removal and skin tightening in the face.

Nothing replaces good diet and exercise, but most of us know that it is sometimes not enough.  Liposuction remains a mainstay method for body contouring.  A consultation with a plastic surgeon trained in liposuction will help you understand the benefits/limitations/risk/alternatives of the various methods of liposuction here in Denver, Colorado.