PON, PON POLL-AWAY – Cleaning out your arteries naturally

March 11, 2010

PON, PON POLL-AWAY – Cleaning out your arteries naturally 

 Competency:  DASH Diet Reference:  Life Extension Review Article: March 2010 Paroxonase and Aging 

Remember the game you used to play in third grade?   A child would yell, “Pom, pom, poll-away” and all the other kids would have to run from one safe zone to the other, trying not to be tagged out.  Did you have any idea that the same game is being played out in your arteries every day with your HDL molecules?  Your HDL cholesterol particles are running around in your arteries with a molecule or two of PON (paraoxonase-1) on their surface.  It’s the PON that scoops up the nasties in your arteries and cleans them up. 

 Here’s the kicker!  As you age, you make less PON-1 (in your liver).  You may still have the HDL but it just isn’t as effective as it used to be cleaning up the bad stuff like it’s meant to, and like it used to.  At the level of the molecule, PON-1 actually prevents the oxidation of LDL particles that cause them to set off inflammation in the artery walls.  It selectively breaks down oxidized fats.  And recent research shows that those folks with the most PON-1 in their blood also respond the most favorably to anti-oxidant foods and have the lowest rates of coronary artery disease, regardless of lipid blood level.  Diabetics and those with any impaired glucose control have a much lower PON-1 response after a meal compared to those folks with a normal glucose response.  

Metabolic syndrome, of which glucose dysmetabolism is a major part is an inflammatory condition in which PON-1 may be a central player. Now, this gets interesting.  It seems the inflammatory process is more important than the LDL cholesterol level, and PON-1 seems to be one of the central players in that game.   This raises the conjecture that perhaps the cholesterol story is slightly misplaced.  Perhaps we have been chasing cholesterol levels when we should have been chasing the underlying pathology of what makes cholesterol dangerous.  That would be the inflammatory process.  If we tackle that, then we get to the core of the problem. 

 We are not just passive parties in this game.  Like the childhood game, we can run fast and catch the bad guys.   A bit of fancy molecular manipulation is all that is needed.  Turns out that is exactly what a few wonderful foods will do for you.  You can induce the production of PON-1 quite dramatically with pomegranate.  The fruit or the juice.   Two weeks on the juice and you increase your PON-1 by 20%.  Nifty!  But that’s not the only good food to do it.  Quercetin and resveretrol do it too.  Where do you get those two polyphenols?  Apples, onions, red grapes…..whole foods.  (Or Pinot Noir if you have had a really bad day) 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  We likely aren’t to the bottom of the story yet.  I think we need to focus on inflammation more than cholesterol.  Control the inflammation, and your inflamed LDLs will get better.  I’m picking up some pomegranate juice from time to time.  I ate about 15 of them this year, 14 more than last year.   And I’m still scrubbing our leather chair that got all sprinkled with purple juice from the last one.  You can buy quercetin and resveratrol supplements.  I want to figure out the whole story first.

Column written by Dr John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)