Archives for July 2015

Jul
31
2015

Two Is Better Than One: Omega-3 And Krill Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids have gotten a lot of limelight in the press; krill oil was kept more in the background by the media. But both omega-3 and krill oil are important for your health.

What can confuse you is the following paragraph that I picked up from Facebook:

“I cannot believe that in the last 7 days 3 Doctors have asked me what krill omega-3 is. One would think that those who look after our health would realize that the high levels of mercury in the regular omega-3 has reached dangerous levels. Krill oil is harvested from pristine waters of the Antarctic Ocean and tested to be free from harmful levels of mercury. If you have not heard of it, it is for brain, heart, joint and immune health.”

Clarification of what Omega-3 fatty acids are

Depending on where fish is within the ocean’s pecking order of feeding, the levels of mercury of the fish oil that contains omega-3 fatty acids will be higher or lower. Tuna, for instance is one of the predator fish on top of the line. They are large predator fish, and as a result, not a fish you want to eat as it has very high levels of mercury. Salmon on the other hand is lower in the line of predator fish. That’s why it is still recommended to eat salmon two or three times per week. Fish oil is pooled from various fish and then molecularly filtered through a special filter that removes heavy metals like mercury, cadmium and others. Knowing these facts, the Facebook text above may be accurate in stating, “regular omega 3 has reached dangerous levels”, but it is inaccurate for the molecularly filtered omega-3 fish oil, which is the only one I would recommend as a supplement. Having said that there are still significant differences in quality according to a report online that tested 51 common products in the US. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are stored in the membranes of platelets and in circulating plasma triglycerides, which is useful for the functioning of the lining of our arteries. This is called endothelium and needs to be healthy to lower blood pressure and prevent hardening of the arteries. Omega-3-fatty acids support the cardiovascular system foremost and the brain secondarily.

Where does Krill oil come from?

Krill oil comes from tiny crustaceans called krill that provides additional benefits that are not found in fish oil alone. Although the initial concentration of raw krill oil has less mercury per milliliter than omega-3 fatty acid fish oil, it still needs to be molecularly filtered to remove heavy metals. Also bear in mind, that the tiny crustaceans live in the same polluted ocean waters as other fish. It is a sad fact that our oceans are no longer pristine! The same is true for the Antarctic Ocean. After the filtering process both krill oil and omega-3 fatty acid fish oil are equal in their quality (free of mercury, other heavy metals, PCB and dioxins).

The omega-3 fatty acids of krill oil have an affinity to bind with phospholipids in red blood cells. This enables krill oil to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain cells providing support for the brain. In this respect krill oil has an edge over omega-3 fatty acids to support the brain. But secondarily it is also good for your heart and the lining of the arteries.

Benefits of marine oils like krill and fish oil

It is best to think about krill oil and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as complementary marine oils that have multiple beneficial effects on the body.

Studies have shown that arthritis and osteoarthritis are helped by krill oil, but also by fish oil. Similarly, heart attacks and strokes are prevented with both krill oil and omega-3 fatty acids. It appears that both oils reduce inflammation in the arteries that are associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and the metabolic syndrome in obese people. C-reactive protein measuring inflammation was reduced by krill oil up to 30% compared to placebo within 30 days. Patients with arthritis had 20% and more reduction in stiffness and pain.

Krill oil is well absorbed into the brain and can prevent age-related brain shrinkage, preserve cognitive function and memory, prevent dementia and also possibly depression.

Other health conditions improve on both krill oil and omega-3 fatty acids like osteoporosis (in combination with vitamin K2, vitamin D3 and calcium), a weak immune system, diabetes, high triglyceride levels and cholesterol problems. Both marine oils prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, which helps to prevent atheroma formation and hardening of the arteries. This prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Fear mongering Facebook write-ups

In this context let me clarify the fear mongering Facebook write-up cited at the beginning of this blog. It is a misconception to think that krill oil is devoid of mercury. It is only so, if it was molecularly filtered, which removes all of the mercury and more, but it leaves the beneficial DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids) intact. In the same vein omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are initially more mercury containing, but after molecular filtration are entirely mercury free, the same as krill oil after molecular filtration. But the mix of omega-3 fatty acids is slightly different with krill oil being a bit richer in DHA and attaching to red blood cells easier while fish oil omega-3’s attach to triglycerides in the liquid phase of the blood, called plasma and also to platelet membranes. So neither krill oil or omega-3 fatty acids are better than the other; they are slightly different and that’s why you benefit from a mix of both. It would be a big mistake to follow the Facebook advice above and only take krill oil by blindly trusting the quotation. In my opinion it is simply a marketing plot to get you switched from fish oil to krill oil.

What combination of Krill oil and omega-3 fatty acid should I take?

Most trials with krill oil have been done with 300 mg of krill oil per day.  I take a dosage of one capsule per day of 300 mg. There are several manufacturers that produce similar products. I also take 3 capsules of omega-3 fatty acids twice per day. Each capsule has 647 mg of EPA and 253 mg of DHA, which translates into a daily dose of 3882 mg of EPA and 1518 mg of DHA. Again, there are several products from which you can choose. The reason I take a relatively high dose of fish oil is the fact that I come from a family background with severe arthritis that started in several relatives at an age of 50+. I have no sign of arthritis at age 70. It may be the result of taking these supplements and staying away from sugar and starchy foods. I need my joints to do ballroom and Latin dancing and I also need them to attend the gym regularly. Exercise by itself has been shown to prevent arthritis and prevent heart attacks and strokes. We need the benefit from all these things in combination: good nutrition, supplements and exercise.

Two Is Better Than One: Omega-3 And Krill Oil

Two Is Better Than One: Omega-3 And Krill Oil

Conclusion

Both krill oil and fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) are needed as supplements to prevent arthritis, strokes, heart attacks, osteoporosis, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s and inflammation. The key to a good krill oil or fish oil supplement is to buy the more expensive products that are molecularly distilled and therefore more concentrated, but also free of heavy metals and other contaminants. These supplements are only a small part of your overall anti-aging program that needs to include good nutrition (organic food), exercise, other supplements and if necessary bioidentical hormone replacement.

Reference: Dr. R. Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“. Paperback through Amazon.com, 2014. This text explains the anti-aging program I follow and includes recipes composed by my wife for 1 week.

Jul
25
2015

Light Can Interrupt Your Circadian Rhythm

A light bulb company from Florida has decided to put warning labels on the light bulbs they manufacture to tell you that artificial light can have health consequences: light can interrupt your circadian rhythms.We do not easily see that it should matter whether you use artificial light at night or not.

Introduction

What we do know is that in the evening when we close our eyes and shut out the light the melatonin production gets elevated, we get sleepy, and we fall asleep. During our sleep the immune system receives a boost from the higher melatonin blood concentration, while cortisol takes a rest and levels are lower overnight. Melatonin is also a powerful anti-cancer agent and this would fit in with the study that found that a loss of the clock gene in shift workers was correlating to a worse prognosis regarding their breast cancer.

There are other diseases that can develop when the circadian rhythm is not maintained. Here are a few examples: neurodegenerative disease, cancer, depression, and sleep disorders.

This link shows how the internal central clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus is responsible for keeping time inside of us. The suprachiasmatic nucleus is situated just above the optic chiasm, hence the name.

The clock gene influences the peripheral clock via the clock genes in each organ to be synchronized. If you disregard your internal clock, expose yourself to prolonged artificial lighting and delay going to sleep in time you will create a disorganized central/peripheral rhythm, which weakens the immune system, disrupts your normal hormone rhythms, and ultimately this can lead to disease.

Breast cancer from interrupted circadian rhythm

Women in California were followed with regard to developing breast cancer and nightly exposure to artificial light.

In this study the authors found a 1.34-fold higher breast cancer risk in premenstrual women exposed to high levels of ambient light at night compared to women who were not.

Similarly, a 2014 study showed a difference with regard to breast cancer rates in women who were working night shifts and women who worked normal hours.

The study showed a loss of clock genes in shift workers with breast cancer that was associated with a worse prognosis of their breast cancer compared to those who were not shift workers and had normal clock genes.

Is it a good idea to tell people that light bulbs can be harmful?

Fred Maxik, the Florida based Lighting Science Group chief officer thinks it is a good idea. Dr. Paolo Sassone-Corsi, the director of the Center of Epigenetics and Metabolism at the school of medicine at University of California Irvine who has authored many studies on the negative effect of artificial lighting on the circadian rhythm also thinks that labeling light bulbs is a good idea. He cautions that there are even more powerful light sources like TV’s and computers that can disrupt the circadian rhythm the later it gets in the evening. “And think about how many people look at Facebook at 2 a.m. That is way more disruptive, but this is certainly a good start; we need to keep increasing awareness in a larger population that light at the wrong time of day can harm you” Dr. Sassone-Corsi added.

It is somewhat nebulous what effects a disruption of the circadian rhythm has in our system. But we do know that sleep deprivation can cause overeating and obesity, memory loss, short attention span, diabetes, depression, car accidents, sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death due to deadly electrical heart rhythms (ventricular fibrillation).

This 2015 study suggests that melatonin should be used to treat people who are involved in shift work. This will help to reset the circadian rhythm to normal.

Origin of circadian rhythm disorders

Sleep disorders can start in childhood, usually when school starts with structured days and normal bedtime hours, followed by school holidays and weekends where late bedtime hours or irregular sleep habits are the rule. Circadian rhythm disorders are not disorders of sleep quality, but rather disorders in timing of sleep (Ref.1). Circadian rhythm disorders start usually when the child enters school, but can develop as late as in adolescence. 10 to 18% of children and adolescents have circadian rhythm disorders. It is not known why some children find it easy to switch between the irregular sleeping habits of summer to the regular sleeping habits during school days. But others are not able to switch and have problems in school with inattention, daytime sleepiness, irritability, hyperactivity and combativeness. Circadian rhythm disorder tends to persist and can turn into adult circadian rhythm disorder. There are also morning types and evening types (in medical lingo morning chronotypes and evening chronotypes).

Delayed sleep phase disorder

One of the most frequent subtypes of circadian rhythm disorder is the delayed sleep phase disorder. This is what is often found in adolescents who push for a later and later bedtime. The fact that they sleep in until 11 AM or 1 PM reinforces it. They like to shut their windows with a black curtain to keep the sunlight out. At night they like to spend time in front of a computer or the TV. They like to go to sleep only at 1, 2 or 3 AM. They may not be aware what is happening to them: the lack of morning sunlight exposure in the early morning hours of the day leads to a delayed setting of the dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) at the end of the day, which is regulated through the suprachiasmatic nucleus (a part of the hypothalamus). By taking frequent blood or saliva melatonin levels researchers have been able to measure corresponding melatonin levels at the time of the DLMO.

We know from research with astronauts in space travel that melanopsin is produced in the blue-light-sensitive photopigment in the ganglion cell layer of the eye. Melanopsin travels from there along the optic nerve into the suprachiasmatic nucleus, where it helps to set the circadian rhythm for the day.

The day is defined by first opening our eyes when we wake up, getting the first melanopsin dose in the circadian rhythm headquarters of the hypothalamus; two yours before we fall asleep we have the dim light melatonin onset where melatonin is just starting to rise, which makes us gradually tired. Maybe the cave men and women sat around the fireplace and told each other stories. We could listen to soft music in a less brightly lit area.

Treatment of delayed sleep phase disorder

It is important to note that people with a delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD) do not have a sleep disorder: they have normal sleep at an abnormal time (Ref.1)

Here is how the sleep specialist treats delayed sleep phase disorder.

  1. Exposure to sunlight or to blue LED light at the time of awakening for 20 minutes to 1 hour is key to resetting the circadian rhythm to an earlier point than has been the case. This involves that the child, adolescent or adult has to get used to setting an alarm clock to a desired time in the morning. In order the preserve the resetting of the circadian rhythm towards the evening it is important that from 5 to 6 PM in the evening exposure to the bright lights is avoided. This includes light emission from TV’s, i-phones or computers. The eye would otherwise reset the circadian rhythm via the melanopsin mechanism to a later time.
  2. Melatonin treatment is used to advance or delay circadian rhythms. Melatonin also has a sedating effect, but only about 20% respond to that within 30 minutes by falling asleep. The doses in commercial products override the circadian rhythm effect. Sleep experts use much smaller doses of melatonin to reset the internal clock. Thinking of an adolescent who goes to sleep at 2 AM, the DLMO would be at midnight. To phase advance an individual like that a small amount of melatonin (0.5 to 1.0 mg) would be given at 6 to 8 PM (that is 4 to 6 hours before the DMLO point or 6 to 8 hours before the previous bedtime). The morning exposure to bright light works together with the early evening dose of a tiny dose of melatonin, which by itself is not enough to put the person to sleep at that time.
  3. Supportive sleep hygiene methods: It is important that the parents understand the underlying problem. If necessary, they may have to seek the advice of a sleep expert and discuss the details with him/her. 2 hours prior to bedtime the child needs to be exposed to dim light, which is light that does not have blue light in it. The level of dimness is such that reading is difficult. No TV, no cell phone or I pad is allowed. In this dim light atmosphere melatonin is expressed normally and will be produced and released by the pineal gland in higher amounts. Establish a regular bedtime with which all family members can agree. This is best kept on school days, holidays and weekends. If you would sleep in, you would switch your time machine in your head to another time zone further west and it would be an effort to switch it back! There are many children and adolescents who can switch back and forth easily, but the person with DSPD cannot switch easily and would get stuck again in the familiar late sleeping pattern.

Avoid cola and other caffeinated beverages, including green tea, as they stimulate. The bedroom should be dark, quiet and comfortable. Sound machines have not been shown to enhance sleep (Ref.1).

Light Can Interrupt Your Circadian Rhythm

Light Can Interrupt Your Circadian Rhythm

Conclusion

Circadian rhythm disturbances are more common than previously thought of. There is a certain percentage of children who enter the school system that develop delayed sleep phase disorder. This often stays with them into adolescence and can even carry on into adulthood. Two simple tools have been shown to treat this: early morning light exposure for 20 minutes to 1 hour and a small dose of evening melatonin to reset the circadian rhythm. There likely are thousands of untreated people with circadian rhythm disorders. As not all circadian rhythm disorders are the same it is advisable to seek the advice of sleep disorder expert, if sleep patterns are problematic.

 

References:

1. John H. Herman, Chapter 5, 35-43. “Circadian Rhythm Disorders”

Principles and Practice of Pediatric Sleep Medicine

Second Edition. Stephen H. Sheldon et al., 2014, Elsevier Inc.

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Jul
18
2015

MIND Diet Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s

Researchers at the Rush University developed the MIND diet that helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” and is a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet that had been developed to help control high blood pressure.

The MIND diet was a prospective study where 923 people aged 58 to 98 years participated. Researchers followed these people for 4.5 years. Three groups of diets were tested: Mediterranean diet, DASH diet and MIND diet.

The MIND diet study result

The adherence to the diet was measured: those who stuck to the diet very closely, another section of participants that were less diligent, and finally one segment of people who did not take the entire thing too serious. With regard to the MIND diet the group with the highest adherence to the diet reduced the rate of Alzheimer’s by 53% compared to the lowest third. The second group still was able to reduce the rate of Alzheimer’s by 35%. The control diets were the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. The group that were strictly adhering to the DASH diet reduced Alzheimer’s by 39%, the group that were very conscientious in adhering to the Mediterranean diet reduced Alzheimer’s by 54%. The middle thirds of both control diets did not show any difference versus the lower thirds. The conclusion was that a strict Mediterranean diet has a very good Alzheimer prevention effect, as does a strict MIND diet. However, when patients do not adhere too well to a diet, the MIND diet is superior still yielding 35% of Alzheimer’s prevention after 4.5 years while the other diets when not adhered to that well showed no difference from being on a regular North American diet.

A brief summary of what Alzheimer’s disease is

A few years back the Pittsburgh PET scan was invented. It uses a Pittsburgh B compound radio-tracer to visualize the pathology in the Alzheimer’s brain. This research tool has made it possible to detect even the earliest Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The basic problem in Alzheimer’s patients is that there is brain atrophy, which can be more located in the front of the brain or in the back. There are two types of AD, the early onset AD (EOAD) and the late onset AD (LOAD). Using the Pittsburgh PET scan it was noted that the brain atrophy with EOAD is severe and located in the back of the brain; in contrast to that with LOAD, which is the more common form of AD the brain atrophy is located in the front of the brain. This imaging tool also allows quantitating the amyloid load; amyloid is a gooey substance that is produced by the inflammatory changes in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients (Ref.1). There are multiple possible causes why Alzheimer’s should develop in a person, but nothing conclusive has been determined. In February, 2015 I summarized a talk given by Dr. Smith at the 22nd Annual A4M Las Vegas Conference that also mentioned that there are many causes that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

The bottom line is that atrophy of the brain leads to loss of memory, personality loss and premature death.

The MIND diet

This diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris, Ph.D., a nutritional epidemiologist of Rush University in Chicago and her colleagues. The team observed that some foods were associated with a delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease while others contributed to an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s.

This is how they developed the term of the 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and the 5 unhealthy food groups.

Meet the 10 “brain-healthy food groups”: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries, beans, nuts, poultry, olive oil, whole grains, fish and wine.

The 5 unhealthy food groups are: red meats, cheese, pastries and sweets, butter and stick margarine, fried or fast foods.

The 10 brain-healthy food groups are full of anti-oxidants, resveratrol and healthy fatty acids. They prevent hardening of the arteries and prevent the deposits of beta amyloid in the brain, which prevents Alzheimer’s disease. There is a bit of an issue about wine, which I have reviewed in this blog. You can replace wine with resveratrol extract as a supplement in order to get away from the toxic effect of alcohol, which is a cell poison. The choice is yours.

Why are the unhealthy foods unhealthy? There is too much trans fat in butter, cheese and margarine, which accelerate hardening of your arteries. The same problem exists with red meats, pastries and fried or fast foods. Sweets pose another problem: the sugar causes insulin levels in your blood to raise, which in turn causes inflammation in the support tissue of your brain, called glia cells, which secrete the beta amyloid that damages brain cells. At the same time sugar is metabolized by the liver into fat and triglycerides, which causes hardening of the arteries. The end result is earlier onset of Alzheimer’s.

According to Morris blueberries and strawberries, which are part of the brain-healthy food groups have been shown to be the most potent berries in terms of protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and preserving cognitive function.

With the late onset AD (=LOAD) that is the most common form of AD genetic factors hardly play a role. But what we eat will determine whether or not we get AD and we can postpone it significantly, if we eat mostly foods from the 10 brain-healthy food groups.

MIND Diet Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s

MIND Diet Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

The MIND diet has been shown to be able to postpone the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It was developed based on the observation that some foods are good for us in terms of preserving cognitive function whereas others are bad. Knowing this it is advisable to eat mostly vegetables, poultry, fish, olive oil, nuts, beans, berries, whole grains, and some wine may be enjoyed as well. At the same time you need to avoid the bad foods mentioned above, like pastries, sweets, red meat, cheese and fast foods.

It is a small price to pay to keep your brain function until a ripe old age. The advantage with the MIND diet is that if you should occasionally deviate from the ideal, you still maintain a significant advantage over the DASH diet or the simple Mediterranean diet.

Reference:

1. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine, Twenty-Fourth Edition, Goldman, Lee, MD; chapter by David S. Knopman: Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, p. 2274-2283 Saunders 2012.

Jul
11
2015

Experiments On Humans With New Statin Drugs?

The FDA has released new statin drugs to be used on a high-risk segment of the population who have genetically high cholesterol, called familial hypercholesterolemia that runs in families. These drugs have been fast-tracked to be introduced strictly to a high-risk population. Smaller trials have been done, but the results of larger trials are only going to be available in 2017. This leaves the uncomfortable question, whether we are observing experiments on humans with new statin drugs, when the final word has not been said.

Introduction

There was a news release about this story. There are a number of new super cholesterol lowering drugs that have to be given by injection and that reduce the LDL cholesterol fraction, which when oxidized is causing hardening of the arteries very quickly. What made the news right now is Amgen’s drug, evolocumab and Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ drug, alirocumab. The traditional thinking is that when you lower the bad LDL cholesterol you would save the patient from heart attacks and strokes. I have blogged about the cholesterol story and statins in November 2013 pointing out that statins can hurt the consumer. One concerning side effect of statin therapy is myopathy, a painful muscle disorder where statins have to be discontinued.

Cholesterol is vital for cell function, for insulation of nerve fibers (myelin sheaths) and for synthesis of our steroid hormones (sex hormones and vitamin D3, now considered to be a hormone). The medical establishment took most of the information regarding heart attack and stroke prevention from the ongoing Framingham study. This clearly pointed to the importance of lowering the LDL cholesterol fraction (the “bad” cholesterol) and maintaining or increasing the HDL fraction (the “good” cholesterol).

The problem is that LDL cholesterol is actually an important cholesterol fraction that the body uses as transport molecule to be delivered to all vital organs like the heart, the skeletal muscles and the brain to replace lipids in cell membranes. LDL cholesterol cannot be simply labeled as the “bad cholesterol”. This is an oversimplification.

If we doggedly stick to the assumption that LDL has to be reduced to prevent heart attacks and strokes, we could hurt patients because vital organs may not get enough nutrients to replace their cell membranes. Without cell membranes there is no life!

Some details about what causes heart attacks and strokes

I like to explain how heart attacks and strokes develop. At the center of the problem is how hardening of the arteries develops. In the 1990’s and in the next decade, from 2000 to 2010 detailed research into this has been completed. It has shown that free radicals have a lot to do with hardening of the arteries. There is not one isolated single cause, but a combination of multiple factors that cause hardening of the arteries. One of the key processes is the fact that that in civilized countries too much sugar and starchy food is consumed. This is metabolized into sugar with digestion and absorbed into the blood by the gut. In response to all this sugar the pancreas secretes an overload of insulin every day. The high insulin levels cause inflammation, which releases a number of aggressive molecules that attack the lining of the arteries. Sugar also oxidizes the LDL cholesterol and the HDL cholesterol, which makes the LDL cholesterol more aggressive as it now reacts like a free radical. Macrophages take up the oxidized LDL cholesterol; they turn into fat-laden foam cells, which in turn burrow themselves under the lining of the arteries. Normally the HDL cholesterol incorporates oxidized LDL cholesterol and brings this to the liver for further processing. However, HDL itself is being oxidized by sugar and it loses its protective function. The end result is that hardening of the arteries is accelerated and when a critical point is reached, a heart attack or stroke can occur.

We need to rethink how to prevent heart attacks and strokes

What struck me with the FDA decision is that they seem to doggedly hold on to the hypothesis that heart attacks and strokes develop from LDL cholesterol that is too high. If this were the case, statins would have worked wonders in terms of preventing heart attacks and strokes, yet the number one killer is still hardening of the arteries. What I wrote in my blog in November 2013 is still true.

The solution to preventing heart attacks and strokes may not be attractive to some, but it is found in a proper diet and exercise. Here is the solution:

  1. We need to cut out sugar and starchy foods. This includes grains. Kellogg’s and cohorts won’t be happy nor will be your friendly baker or the bakery department in your supermarket.
  2. A Mediterranean diet is now the gold standard and adding olive oil and nuts to it will be even more effective in reducing mortality from heart attacks and strokes.
  3. Exercise has been proven to elevate HDL cholesterol significantly, so why not do less sitting and do more moving? With having cut out sugar and starchy foods, the HDL will be fully functioning and keep the LDL cholesterol honest, meaning that only non-oxidized LDL will reach the vital organs for membrane exchange work, while oxidized LDL is removed by HDL like a sponge and inactivated in the liver.

This is all: a three-point approach with no statins and no super statins. Big Pharma will not be happy about that, but it has been proven to be effective for several years (Ref. 1, 2 and 3).

What I find particularly concerning is the fact that most of the super statin trials will only come out with the full results in 2017. We witness that the FDA has approved these new super statins to be used on the most vulnerable people (familial hypercholesterolemia) on top of regular statins. I fail to see how vital organs can function, if the diet is not changed. It also is disturbing that CoQ-10 is not given as a supplement to counter at least some of the side-effects of the statins and super statins. No recommendations to that effect were made. I feel that the FDA allows patients with familial hypercholesterolemia to be subjected to a human experiment of this nature. They are receiving drugs that we do not fully know yet. After 2017 we will know whether they have reduced heart attack and stroke rates or not.

Experiments On Humans With New Statin Drugs?

Experiments On Humans With New Statin Drugs?

Conclusion

I remember very well from the 1980’s when I was in the middle of practicing medicine that we were told through the cholesterol-lowering drug guidelines that we should first assess the patient’s diet and exercise status. If modifying these lifestyle factors were ineffective, we would then only be using the statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels. In the meantime the scenario has changed and experienced a complete reversal in terms of diets. The high carb /low fat diet has been replaced with the low carb/medium fat Mediterranean diet, which by itself can be very effective in reducing LDL cholesterol. Recently research has shown that adding olive oil and nuts can lower mortality from heart attacks and strokes even more. It seems that the FDA is completely ignoring all this research.

I think that physicians and patients alike would do well to remember that it was the introduction of sugar, starchy foods and processed foods into the civilized world about 100 years ago that caused an increase of heart attacks and strokes because of the processes explained above. The real solution is the 3-point program suggested above. This will likely solve 80% to 90% of all cases of hardening of the arteries causing strokes and heart attacks. The rest could be treated cautiously with cholesterol lowering drugs, like the statins, however there is no room for human experiments.

More info on arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries).

References:

1. Dr. Steven Masley, MD: “The 30-day Heart Tune-Up – A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, Center Street, A Division of Hachette Book Group Inc. New York, Boston, Nashville, USA © 2014

2. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

3. William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. Harper Collins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

Jul
04
2015

Health Depends on Healthy Soil

I never gave it much thought that soil quality should affect our health until I came across an article to that effect in the June Issue of the BC Medical Journal by Dr. Bill Mackie. It is entitled “Healthy soil, healthy population”. He makes the point that there is only a finite amount of fertile, arable land in British Columbia. The other areas are mountains where no food will grow.

In the past 5 years the Environmental Health Committee of BC (chairman Dr. Bill Mackie) has emphasized the importance of cutting back on the use of antibiotics in managing livestock as it causes resistant strains to enter the food chain and it also changes the bacterial composition of the soil. This damages the environment and it also makes antibiotics less effective in treating most of the bacterial infections.

Dr. Mackie attended the 4th International Conference on Sustainability Science in France in September 2013. During the conference professor Daniel Nahon asked the question: “Why should we change agriculture?” He stated that apart from global warming that can affect the way crops are cultivated, the techniques of agriculture over the past 100 years have to be reviewed as they contribute to soil erosion, increased resistance of insects to chemicals and more frequent flooding.

Soil creation from continental crust rock to cropable soil takes a long time: to get 4 to 12 inches of bedrock transformed into cropland takes 20,000 to 30,000 years. So, effectively the soils that we encounter in our lifetime are a non-renewable resource.

This means that we need government agencies to protect arable land. But this is not what is happening: The world’s reserve of cropland is 600 million hectares (=1482 million acres). What is destroying this land? It is soil destruction and soil sterilization. Erosion is the primary reason for soil destruction. This is mostly due to ploughing practices, forest clearing to build subdivisions as part of urbanization and herding associated with raising cattle. All these are responsible for shifting the balance towards soil destruction, which occurs 10 to 100 times faster than soil formation. Erosion rates are 10 tons per hectare (or 4 tons per acre) over 80% of Earth’s arable land.

With regard to urbanization keep in mind that in 1900 only 14% of the world population lived in cities. However, in 2000, 54% of the world population consisted of urban dwellers.

Some more data: In the US 100 square meters (1076.3 square feet) are lost every second. China is losing 500 square meters (5381.5 square feet) every second. When you translate that into an easy to imagine figure, these two countries alone destroy the area of Denmark each year!

Dr. Mackie stated that when current trends of global food production are stacked against global population increases, we will reach a point in 3 centuries from now where the population will no longer be able to grow enough food to feed itself.

There are many unknowns though: This projection could be reached earlier, if there is more soil erosion than anticipated, but it could also be delayed by conservation practices. In British Columbia there has been a Provincial Land Commission since 2002 that developed strict agricultural zoning laws, called Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This makes it difficult for developers to build on valuable agricultural land, no matter how desirable this land would be from a real estate point of view. In BC this law has been instrumental in preserving agricultural land on the erosion side of the equation as mentioned above.

Health concerns

There are health concerns because of monoculture techniques that are employed on a large scale. With the monoculture practice artificial fertilizers have to be used to replenish the soil. But the plants are hardly extracting 50% of the fertilizers from the soil; the rest becomes part of agro pollution. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the main pollutants. Children who were fed nitrate-contaminated water were described as blue baby syndrome a few years back; this was caused by methemoglobinemia, which can cause brain damage or death. Now babies are fed formulas made with reverse osmosis or bottled water. The Center for Disease Control also linked miscarriages to high nitrate levels in drinking water.

Another effect of over fertilization is the leaching out of important minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. These minerals are then low in vegetables we eat and this affects our metabolism, as magnesium for instance is a co-factor in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body.

Concentrated animal feeding operations cause problems with regard to manure disposal. The farmers of these animals use heavy metals to promote growth and this results in high concentrations of arsenic, copper, selenium and zinc in the manure. This leaches into ground water and kills wildlife. But there are also antibiotic residues and resistant bugs in the manure of these concentrated animal feeding operations. In addition the animals carry superbugs, which can cause serious problems in humans.

Toxicity of food

With the monoculture techniques minerals and nutrients were leached out and farmers had to use fertilizers, insecticides and Roundup weed killer to maintain the monocultures. This was good business for the chemical companies that produced all those substances, but has not been good for our health despite reassurances otherwise. The end result is that we humans have to deal with residues of insecticides in our food that function as estrogen-like substances causing cancer on the long-term.

We also get exposed to Roundup that has been classified by the World Health Organization as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A carcinogenic).

Fertilizers are rich in heavy metals and have been found to cause cancer and methemoglobinemia.

Add to this the GMO issue that has not been resolved. Large manufacturers and those who are heavily invested in them are again pushing the envelope to the limit, but GMO crops are not harmless as some reports of infertility, breast cancer, malformations in newborns and autoimmune reactions in humans have shown.

GMO research was hastily put together and tested on short-term animal models. This will not do regarding safety in humans. It is a disconcerting thought that presently the US population has been enrolled in an involuntary long-term toxicity study by the industry, as GMO was declared “safe”. In Europe governments have gone the cautious road and not allowed GMO as freely as in the US. I prefer organic food, which is a certain protection from insecticides, fertilizers, Roundup and GMO.

The entire so-called “standard farming practices” have insidious effects on our health and need to be reviewed by medical experts. One of the problems of starting new agro industry practices was the fact that there was no input from consumers, from health professionals or scientists to look at how this would affect us as humans. The old-fashioned way of just doing something and waiting until there is a crisis does not work any more in society today.

Discussion

Conservation agriculture employs three key principles that are worth mentioning:

1. Practice minimum mechanical soil disturbance, which is essential to maintaining minerals within the soil, stopping erosion, and preventing water loss.

2. Manage the topsoil to create a permanent organic soil cover; this allows for growth of organisms within the soil structure.

3. Adopt the practice of crop rotation with more than two species. This controls weeds and insects and cuts down the need for chemical sprays.

Much can be done by recycling garden refuse; the city of Kelowna, BC has developed the manufacturing of OgoGrow, which they call a “soil amendment”.

This is a mineral and organic compound rich soil that can be mixed with existing poor soil thus turning it into a higher quality soil.

Health Depends on Healthy Soil

Health Depends on Healthy Soil

Conclusion

When proper planning is done worldwide, programs like these can be adopted. Some form of agricultural land reserve legislation combined with soil enrichment with products similar to OgoGrow will slow down soil erosion.

Tampering with the food production of future generations is not an allowable option. We need more international conferences on sustainability science as mentioned above. But we also need activists in all countries looking out for our food quality.

At the present time the only alternative to eating tampered food is to buy organic food. Don’t allow chemical companies to mess with the quality of soil bacteria or food quality, don’t allow farmers to mess with antibiotics that contaminates your meat with superbugs. It is a multifaceted task that will involve worldwide co-operation.

But this kind of work has to be done for mankind to survive!

 

Reference: “Healthy soil, healthy population” by Bill Mackie, MD Chairman of Environmental Health Committee, BC/Canada BC Medical Journal Vol. 57, No.5, June 2015, page 201.