Life Begins At...

The Retiree Magazine Summer 2011-12

Life Begins At.....

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OPCs The Wonder Nutrient n 1936, Prof. Jacques Masquelier worked in a lab alongside Linus Pauling, the man who discovered vitamin C. Prof. Masquelier found a natural plant substance, a high performance phyto-nutrient called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), and developed a patented method to extract this powerful antioxidant flavonol from the woody part of plants (pine bark and grape seeds being two of the more readily available sources). I Not to be confused with grape seed extract, Masquelier's OPCs have some amazing capabilities – they are readily absorbed by the human body, are generally well tolerated and have a huge range of benefits. As they support the body's vascular system – they work on the body at a cellular level – they can assist in eye, leg and heart health by helping to maintain healthy circulatory function. The vascular system is a large but fragile network of capillaries which connect the venous structure of our body. It controls the passing of liquid, nutrients and waste material providing the cells with essential nutrients. When this system breaks down, symptoms such as compromised circulation, broken capillaries, spider veins and varicose veins may appear. Over the past 50 years large quantities of clinical research have been undertaken to investigate the many areas of benefit of OPCs. In his book, "Dr Masquelier's Mark on Health", Dutch author Bert Schwitters discusses the huge impact that OPCs have on free radical damage in our systems. His dissertation on the damage we in the Western world are doing to our systems with our high-calorie, empty nutrient junk food diet (cardio-vascular disease, obesity, diabetes, premature signs of ageing) means that particularly in "the Cola society", as he calls it, we have to start taking proactive steps towards improving our health. OPCs are one group of phytonutrients that benefit a whole range of conditions that are often associated with ageing. Bert Schwitters explains the reason for this; the four key functions of OPCs are to protect collagen, assist circulation, catch free radicals and boost vitamin C. These can benefit a range of seemingly unrelated conditions, from the complications associated with diabetes, to varicose veins, oedema, macular degeneration and the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is estimated that the antioxidant potential of OPCs is up to 50 times stronger than that of those other well- known antioxidants, vitamin E, and 20 times more potent than vitamin C. However, OPCs do not replace vitamin C – the two are in fact complementary. Due to its work on supporting the collagen matrix, there are also external benefits from OPCs to areas such as skin, hair and nails. OPCs also offer macular support, as eyes are particularly vulnerable to vascular degeneration. Many sports injuries involve ruptured capillaries from torn muscles, sprains and fractures. OPCs help the recovery process by minimising the effects of these injuries, reducing the free radical damage and helping new collagen form while maintaining good circulation. Ideally we should try to obtain OPCs naturally from the diet. OPCs can be found in high concentrations in some fruits such as apple, pear and grapes, and in chocolate, red wine and some teas. Unfortunately, the best sources are often in the parts of the plant we discard – the seeds, stems and bark. As well, we should try to limit the free radical damage we expose ourselves to. Free radicals form in our bodies as a result of stress caused by our environment, such as smoking, air pollution, air conditioning, excess UV light, even burnt food and rancid vegetable oils. Emotional trauma can also contribute to excess free radicals. OPCs provide the electrons to help minimise free radical damage to our bodies. Whilst aging cannot be reversed, the benefits of a healthy diet and moderate exercise cannot be underestimated in making our lives more enjoyable. Making sure our bodies have high levels of antioxidants, through food and exercise, or in conjunction with supplements, can slow and even complement the aging process and protect the cells in the battle against modern stresses and pollution. THE RETIREE SUMMER 143

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