Jan
31
2016

The Gut and Brain Connection

There is a lot of talk about the gut and brain connection. At the 23rd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 11-13, 2015) in Las Vegas there were several lectures pointing out the importance of the gut flora for proper brain function. As a matter of fact, if you have the wrong gut flora, you can get a number of diseases like diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, some cancers and even obesity. Martin P. Gallagher, MD, DC talked about this in his talk entitled “Gut on Fire, Brain on Fire!”

Function of the microbiome

The microbiome is the sum of all microbial organisms inhabiting the human body, which colonize mainly the colon, but also to a lesser degree the small intestine. Dr. Gallagher stated that the microbiome weighs only 7.1 oz., although in the past some have estimated its weight to be as high as 3 pounds. The purpose of the microbiome is to help form a gut/blood barrier. It forms a 30-micron thick layer in the GI tract, protects the intestinal lining and metabolizes food remnants, especially from carbohydrates. In addition, it also communicates with the immune system. There is a cross talk between the lining of the gut and the and the body’s immune system. The gut bacteria help the body to create stability; as a result the good bacteria also decrease intestinal permeability.

Leaky gut syndrome develops

When inflammation occurs in the gut, the thickness of the biofilm is less than 30 microns. Intestinal permeability increases and becomes “leaky gut syndrome”. This can be the cause of autoimmune diseases and possibly other diseases.

The enteric nervous system

The gut can produce as many neurotransmitters as the brain and spinal cord can synthesize. The enteric nervous system communicates with the brain through the vagal nerve. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that regulates motility of the gut. The control system of the gut can work on its own and override the concerns of the central nervous system.

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the enteric nervous system as well as the brain. With Alzheimer’s disease the characteristic brain lesions are also present in the enteric nervous system!

A mouse experiment showed the following. The Lactobacillus strain is  normally part of the microbiome of the gut.  Re-introduction of Lactobacillus into the gut flora resulted in healing certain parts of the brains of these animals, which researchers associate with anxiety and depression. But when the researchers severed the vagal nerve of these animals, none of these healing changes occurred.

The gut-brain-axis

For this reason the researchers suggested that the gut bacteria are able to communicate with the brain via the vagal nerve. Researchers have coined this connection the “gut-brain axis”. These protective gut bacteria have the ability to protect humans from gastric acidity, from bile acid toxicity, they adhere to the lining of the gut and they persist to reside within the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics help the immune system to maintain the immunologic memory and to secrete antibodies, called immunoglobulins.

Two strains with benefit to humans are Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii. Probiotics often help against diarrhea. The natural food for gut bacteria in the colon comes from starches of chicory, asparagus, inulin and onions that are indigestible in the stomach and small intestine, but are fermented in the colon to provide food for the bacteria residing there.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

Overgrowth of the small intestine with bacteria that produce endotoxins appears to have significance in both animal models and human disease. Chlamydia species as well as Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) can produce toxins that cause hypersensitivity to pain in soft tissues in fibromyalgia and animal models of fibromyalgia. Moreover, SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – in experimental animals caused the same hypersensitivity of the soft tissues and also leaky gut syndrome.

Risk factors for SIBO

What causes SIBO is too little stomach acid production, treatment with proton pump inhibitors (powerful anti acid medications) and antibiotics. To summarize, Dr.Gallagher said that SIBO also occurs in post-surgical patients, in patients with diabetes, is brought on by alcohol, nicotine, drugs and GMO foods.

Neurogenic inflammation

Normally the blood brain barrier keeps immune cells from the body out of the brain. Only glucose, proteins and lipids are allowed into the brain, but not lipophilic neurotoxins. In contrast, neurogenic triggers, when admitted to the brain, will compromise the function of the immune cells of the CNS, called microglia. In essence, this can result in memory loss, Alzheimer’s, dementia, seizures, migraines, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, weakness, numbness, etc.

What triggers inflammation?

Here is a long list of different items that cause inflammation: aging, hormone deficiencies, obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, fungal infection, the Standard American diet (SAD), pain, trauma and mechanical stress, heavy metals, food allergies, toxins, gut dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, mal-digestion/absorption, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, recreational drugs and alcohol, lack of exercise and lack of sleep.

Neurotoxic insults start the chain of reactions  like heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies, viruses/fungus/bacteria, inflammatory diet, MSG, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, etc.. One or more of these factors destabilize the tight junctions of the blood brain barrier, which leads to neurogenic inflammation.

Result of neurogenic inflammation

The result is Parkinson’s disease, MS, dementia, chronic pain, behavioral and personality changes, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and Lyme disease. What seems to be happening a lot is that there is overgrowth of abnormal bacteria in the small bowel, which produce toxins. These in turn lead to leaky gut syndrome, which allows neurogenic triggers to attack the blood brain barrier. It seems like from here it is a short step to neurotoxic insults of the brain overstimulating the microglia, which will produce the diseases listed above.

Healing of brain inflammation

First of all, treatment starts with the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Second, people who are gluten sensitive need to eliminate gluten entirely from their food. Third, casein sensitive people need to eliminate dairy products. Furthermore, a triple strength, molecularly distilled fish oil product is taken as a supplement every day with 4 grams or more of DHA/EPA. This helps the anti-inflammatory response.

Glutathione

One of the most powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories is intravenous glutathione. This is given as intravenous chelation therapy, which removes heavy metals. Other chelation agents such as EDTA intravenously may be given alternatively. Dr.Gallagher said that glutathione serves as primary cellular defense against free radicals, is a powerful antioxidant and serves as detoxifying agent against xenobiotics. Xenobiotics are remnants of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and pollutants that are contained in crops we eat.

Dr. Gallagher gives 600mg of glutathione twice per day intravenously for 30 days. Uniquely, in Parkinson’s disease patients whose mid brain is often poisoned by mercury this leads to 42% decline of disabilities and the effect lasts for 2 to 4 months after this treatment has been stopped. Coupled with this the treatment also protects telomeres, the caps on the ends of cellular DNA as well as mitochondrial DNA. In addition, glutathione is protective of neurons and nerves.

Curcumin

This common Indian spice, found in turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory. It is a safe natural agent and has also anti-viral and anti-tumor activities. It binds to the vitamin D receptor and works synergistically together with vitamin D3. Solid lipid curcumin particle technology makes curcumin 65-fold more bioavailable; free curcumin is allowed to pass the blood brain barrier. Lower doses achieve the same effect than regular curcumin.

According to a publication using lipidated curcumin the following observations were made: improved vascular function; equally important, inflammatory markers reduced by 14%; in like manner, triglycerides lowered by 14%; by the same token, oxidative stress reduced; not to mention, catalase increased and finally total antioxidant status improved. Here is another paper about lipidated curcumin.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory by countering the arachidonic acid pathway that leads to inflammation. Physicians recommend it as triple strength, molecularly distilled fish oil. DHA/EPA are the active ingredients. Chronic inflammation requires 2 to 12 grams daily; irritable bowel syndrome 6 to 12 grams daily; depression, anxiety and insomnia require 2 to 4 grams per day; autoimmune disease, back pain and degenerative joint disease 4 to 12 grams per day.

Gut/brain dysbiosis

For gut/brain dysbiosis Dr. Gallagher recommended to start with a 10-day fruit/vegetable detox program. Milk thistle, glutathione and pancreatic enzymes in combination lead to improvement. Lipidated curcumin is also useful. The physician also gives glutamine, prebiotics and probiotics for gut support. He also tells the patient to take molecularly distilled fish oil (DHA/EPA) and vitamin D3 as anti-inflammatories. Doctors also administer oral and intravenous glutathione to detoxify. Many doctors use natural as a combination of glutathione, oregano, olive leaf and silver salts.

The Gut and Brain Connection

The Gut and Brain Connection

Conclusion

Inflammation can start in the gut, lead to leaky gut syndrome and break down the blood/brain barrier. The end result is that inflammation develops in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can occur. The sooner the physician starts with treatment, the faster the recovery is. When the patient has reached the end stage, it is difficult to turn the inflammatory process around. Fortunately there are effective ways to get the inflammation under control with intravenous glutathione in the beginning and subsequent treatment with lipidated curcumin, omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D3. A permanent switch to a Mediterranean diet is important as well to keep inflammation under control.

Lifestyle and nutrition choices are important for prevention

A few years back this mainstream medicine considered this type of approach as “quackery”; now it is the latest information from research into the brain/gut connection. The right lifestyle and nutrition choices can do a lot on a preventative basis. Once disease has taken root, treatment may still be possible, but once it is at a later stage a full cure is unlikely.

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Jan
23
2016

Life Extended By Several Decades

Have you ever thought about the possibility to prolong your “Freshness Date”? At the 23rd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 13, 2015 in Las Vegas the endocrinologist, Dr. Thierry Hertoghe from Belgium gave a talk about “How to extend the human lifespan by 40 years”. Dr. Hertoghe explained that it is possible to extend life by paying attention to the factors that prolong life and combining them as an anti-aging type lifestyle. He made a distinction between

  1. normal aging: up to age 82
  2. healthy aging: up to age 100
  3. anti-aging medicine: up to age 122
  4. reversing aging medicine: much more than 122, perhaps to age 150 or more.

Normal aging (up to age 82)

Life expectancy is on average about 82 years. From the age of 50 to 60 onwards you may encounter problems with increased cholesterol, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks and strokes. Coronary artery by-pass surgery may extend an individual’s life by 10 to 15 years. But hardening of the arteries in the general circulation will eventually cut down the blood supply to vital organs leading to premature death that could have been avoided.

Around the mid 60’s to mid 70’s 12.4% of African Americans or 2.9% Caucasians get Alzheimer’s disease. These figures worsen rapidly with further aging: in their mid 70’s to mid 80’s 32.5 % of African Americans and 9.8% of Caucasians suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. At the age of 85+ years 54% of African Americans and 27% of Caucasians have Alzheimer’s disease. With normal aging Alzheimer’s has already increased, and this trend likely is continuing.

Loss of memory, depression and musculoskeletal pain

Memory loss also leads to a shortened survival curve; people with memory loss live two years less on average than compared to a group with no memory loss.

Add to this loss of life because of depression, common in older age. Compared to a non-depressed group over 2 years of older people the depressed group lived 30% shorter.

Musculoskeletal pain in younger age (18-44) was 38%; the next demographic group aged 45-64 reported 61% of musculoskeletal pains; seniors between 65 and 74 had 68% of musculoskeletal pain, and in the demographic group of 75 and up 71% of persons suffered of musculoskeletal pain. As we will learn later there may be hormone deficiencies behind these neck and back pains. If the patient does not seek treatment, this can lead to falls, fractured hips and premature loss of life. Those who survive accidents often become wheel chair bound and end up in nursing homes.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and patients with other disabilities have a lower life expectancy

One specific subgroup of patients with musculoskeletal pain are rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. After 10 years of having rheumatoid arthritis patients will have a survival of only about 50%. With involvement of more than 30 joints  (more severe form of the disease) only about 40% will survive. In other words, rheumatoid arthritis is an important factor for lowering people’s life expectancy.

At an age of 65 to 74 men have 23% of disabilities, while woman have 27.5% disabilities. This increases between the ages of 75 or older to 40% for men and 44.5% for women. At the age of 65 disabled men have a 3.5% higher death rate than the average population; disabled women’s death rate is 2.5% higher than the normal population. In other words, disability kills.

Obesity, and heart disease

Urinary urgency and incontinence leads to a 3.13-fold higher mortality rate than a control group of men who do not have these symptoms.

65% of men and 85% of women above the age of 50 have abdominal obesity. This is not just a harmless condition. There is an association between increased triglyceride levels and increased mortality due to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

By the age of 65-74 heart disease has a frequency of 32% in men and 23% in women. At the age of 75 years and older this jumps to 44% in men and 32% in women. Once the doctor diagnoses heart disease, it causes a lot of premature deaths: an average person with heart disease lives 10 years shorter than those who do not have heart disease!

Healthy aging (up to age 100)

Improving lifestyle factors increases life expectancy

If we look at normal aging, we realize that all these diseases and disabilities we discussed are eventually killing us. In order to live longer we have to take steps that are known to interfere with some of these factors. For instance, quitting smoking will prevent heart disease, several cancers and chronic obstructive lung disease (emphysema). Positive thinking, social support and transcendental meditation will increase survival by preventing mental illness and depression, which in turn will prevent suicides. A healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet or the Pegan diet will avoid cardiovascular disease and cut down cancer rates.

Live longer with better diet

One dietary change is called the “polymeal”. It consists of fish, fruit, vegetables, garlic, almonds, a moderate amount of wine and dark chocolate. Compared to the Standard American diet this type of diet would add 9 years for men and 8.1 years for women regarding their life expectancy. For instance, prostate cancer showed a 7-fold increase in a group of men who ate a lot of pickled vegetables, fermented soy products, salted fish and preserved meats, when compared to a control group who did not include these foods. In a group of women who had their meat well done and ate three servings of beef per week, breast cancer risk was 4.62-fold higher compared to women who ate meat done rare or medium rare. Overall cancer and cardiovascular mortality dropped by 35% in a study where 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables were eaten per day.

Regular exercise and supplements of vitamin C and omega-3

A regular exercise program will strengthen the heart and lungs, keep your weight stable, reduce heart attacks and strokes and reduce the probability to develop cancer. A group of men between 61 and 81 were observed over 12 years and divided into those who did not exercise versus those who walked more than 2 miles per day. The exercising men had 19% less mortality compared to the sessile men. Vitamin C from fruit and vegetables or from taking supplements reduces global mortality from all causes by 46% compared to controls that did not. Similarly taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements (fish oil) daily reduced all cause mortality by 20%.

Dr. Hertoghe calls this “healthy aging” and this would allow you to be able to reach an age of about 100 years.

Anti-aging medicine (up to age 122)

Low thyroid hormones

Dr. Hertoghe told the audience that further attention to anti-aging factors could reduce mortality even further. He found over the years that paying attention to correcting hormonal weaknesses would have profound effects on how old a person becomes. Thyroid hormone replacement has been one of the steps that has helped people to feel more energetic, have less muscle pain, less falls, less fractures and complications. It also translates into longer lives.

One slide showed that a low free T3 level (low thyroid) was associated with a 3.6-fold higher death rate. A low free T3 level is an accurate predictor of cumulative death rate in cardiac patients.

T3 is also important for the maintenance of the immune system, which shows in patients with tuberculosis: the one-year mortality rate from TB in thyroid deficient patients was 75%, while patients with a normal thyroid had a mortality from TB of only 7%.

Replacement of missing sex hormones

Secondly, replacing missing sex hormones can add more life because cardiovascular disease is postponed (less heart attacks, less strokes), there is less cancer and better cancer survival, if a person comes down with cancer. Many statistics were quoted.

One interesting slide showed the longitudinal survival follow-up of congenital dwarfs in comparison with their normal brothers or sisters. Untreated male dwarfs turned only 56 years on average, while their unaffected normal brothers turned 75 years on average (19 years longer). With female dwarfs the difference is even more striking: untreated females dwarfs turned 46 years on average, while their normal sisters turned 80 years on average (a difference of 34 years).

Bioidentical hormone treatment prolongs life, lowers heart attack rates and lowers cancer rates

Another publication showed that the heart attack risk was 3.8-fold higher in a group of patients with hypopituitarism (under function of the pituitary gland), but the treatment group (treated with GH) had a normal rate of heart attacks.

11606 men aged 40 to 79 years were followed for between 6 and 10 years. The group who had the top 25% range of testosterone had a 19% lower mortality rates from heart attacks or cancer.

Older women, particularly aged 100 in Okinawa had 2.3-fold higher testosterone levels than women in the US at age 70. On the other hand 70-year old Okinawan women had 2.7-fold higher estrogen levels than US women.

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) prior to developing breast cancer showed a 27% longer survival among 984 breast cancer patients in Sweden compared to those without prior hormone treatment.

Lower mortality rates for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy of breast cancer patients

In another group of breast cancer patients (2755 patients) aged 35 to 74 who were treated with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) after their breast cancer diagnosis, 50% had a lower recurrence rate (compared to no-BHRT treatment) and there was a reduction of 66% of mortality from breast cancer compared to controls without BHRT treatment. Another study showed that breast cancer patients would have a mortality rate of 33.3% without hormone treatment. After non-estrogen hormone treatment the mortality rate dropped to 12.5% and to 6% after estrogen/progesterone use. This shows the healing results of the various natural hormones.

Treating the cause rather than the symptoms

A group of 280 men and women around the age of 50 were treated with anti-aging hormone replacement for 2 or more years. In the beginning there were 34% of women and 15% of men with coronary artery disease. There were also 36.4% of women and 34.1% of men with high blood pressure. After replacing all of the missing hormones with bioidentical hormones for more than 2 years, coronary artery disease had dropped to 1.6% of the women and 1.08% of the men; high blood pressure had dropped to 2% of the women and 3% of the men. No drugs, just hormones! Of course, initially the doctors prescribed drugs to stabilize their condition, but they could gradually drop them safely. The reason was that the doctors treated the underlying hormone deficiency. The doctors were treating the cause of the cardiovascular disease rather than only the symptoms.

Low mortality of women on bioidentical hormone replacement

Dr. Hertoghe presented data of 6.38-year follow-up of 286 consecutive patients using anti-aging medicine (replacement of missing hormones with bioidentical hormones). These patients had an overall cancer rate of 2.1%, which compared very favorably to the 3.2% cancer rate among US women. The overall cancer rate was  3.1% in French women and 3.1% in Belgium women on no hormones. This is the type of information that is needed following the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) that scared women into the false belief that hormones would be “poisonous”.

Synthetic hormone do not fit the hormone receptor

In the WHI synthetic hormones caused cancer and heart attacks; the reason for this was that synthetic hormones are not the identical shape as the natural hormones. But hormones and hormone receptors have to fit like a key into a lock; otherwise they are not effective or even block the natural life prolonging action of the natural hormone. This is why in the WHI study the outcomes were poor. Using bioidentical hormones the doctor can prevent heart attacks and strokes and they are also cancer-protective.

Reversing aging medicine (much more than 122, perhaps to age 150 or more)

General medicine has the goal to make patients as healthy as possible. With reversing aging medicine the goal is to make patients as young as possible. They are at their healthiest and feel younger again.

With anti-aging medicine using a healthy diet, exercise and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy the patients can add 15 years of good life. Add to these organ transplants, if necessary, telomerase activators and stem cell therapy. This can add another 25 years of life expectancy to a total of 40 years.

Growth hormone deficiency

Growth hormone deficiency is the one factor that has been underestimated. The discussion of dwarfs in comparison to their healthy brothers and sisters showed us the following. Growth hormone production can add between 19 and 34 years (average 26.5 years) of life. Dr. Hertoghe has done blood tests (IGF-1) and lately also 24-hour urine metabolite tests of growth hormone on aging patients and found that many are deficient with regard to GH production. These were patients where Dr. Hertoghe already replaced their thyroid hormones, if abnormal and replaced their sex hormones when they were low. But they lost hair, developed old looking faces with wrinkles. In addition, a loss of subcutaneous fatty tissue is giving the face a hollow appearance. They also had muscle and joint pains and thin skin, particularly over the back of their hands.

Replacement of growth hormone

He replaced their missing GH using daily GH self-injection with a tiny needle (similar to diabetes injections). Within 1.5 to 3 years the wrinkles disappeared, the faces started to look younger and patients did feel younger. Their muscle and joint pains had disappeared and their hair grew back. The dosage range is between 0.1mg and 0.3mg, a tiny amount of GH daily. This is not inexpensive, but some health care plans pay for this, as a lack of GH is a true hormone deficiency.

About organ transplants

Often it is a single limiting organ that determines when we die, typically the heart, lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, small bowel, pancreas or bone marrow. Organ transplants can add years of life, but it can be cumbersome to find a suitable donor. One study showed that only 40% to 60% of organ transplants are surviving 8 years after the surgery.

Stem cell therapies are other ways to prolong life. More research will perfect this, but essentially stem cells can provide 220 different cell types for in-vitro organ culture. This can probably be of use in the future to replace malfunctioning organs.

Life Extended By Several Decades

Life Extended By Several Decades

Conclusion

The dream of staying younger for longer can be a reality today. You just need to be willing to discipline yourself and watch what you are eating (Mediterranean type diet). Also, exercise regularly and have a positive psychological attitude. If the outdoor air is poor where you live, you may want to consider moving. Move to a place with good air quality. Sleep well for 7 ½ hours every night and retire not later than 10 to 11PM. You need to be asleep between midnight and 3AM as the growth hormone peak occurs at that time.

Take supplements

Take supplements that contain longevity micronutrients (magnesium, vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12, Co-Q-10, selenium, zinc, iron in premenopausal women etc.). Replace all missing hormones with bioidentical ones, like thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), sex hormones, DHEA and GH. Stem cell therapy and telomerase activators for cell rejuvenation will also have more of a place in the future.

Even, if you do only part of this reversing aging program you will slow down aging.

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Jan
02
2016

Fast Food Kicked Out Of Hospital

The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has done the impossible: “Fast food kicked out of hospital”.  They decided to kick out McDonald’s from its hospital. The doctors decided that McDonald’s food was not in the best interest of their patients or their staff. This was a gutsy thing to do. But the Cleveland Hospital is already the 7th hospital in the US to do that. There are over 5,600 hospitals with cafeterias and fast food outlets as well as many other emergency care and healthcare facilities with their own food outlets. Even, if only a certain percentage of them are no longer visible in their facilities, this must be considered progress.

Why did the Cleveland Clinic decide to throw out McDonald’s?

This is a reasonable question. The answer is also very straightforward: it is because McDonald’s food quality was unacceptable from a food quality point of view. The doctors did not think it was compatible with good health.

  • McDonald’s serves genetically modified organisms (GMO) in their food. There is controversy regarding GMO and it may take a lot longer before we really know whether or not GMO is safe to eat.
  • There is dimethylpolysiloxane in fish fillet as an anti-foaming agent. Why in the world do we need an antifoaming agent in our food?
  • Eggs consist of a strange non-egg combinations.
  • McRib is not a rib sandwich at all, it is rather a concoction of garbage meat containing 70 chemicals and food supplements.
  • Even the rib parts are not real, but the meal consists of animal parts that have been brought together to create a rib-like structure.

When you take all of these facts together, it is no wonder that the Cleveland Clinic Hospital doctors decided to show McDonald’s the door.

Contrast this with good quality food

It is tiring to roam around and find mediocre food in so many outlets. It pays to look over a healthy food list and perhaps start buying it and cooking your own food. The more people will do that, the less business should be left for the poor quality fast food places.

Unfortunately this does not happen easily. People want questionable “convenience”, they don’t want to plan their food needs ahead and bring a lunch along. They like to eat their lunch at a fast food take-out place. They also do not think about the lack of quality in food. As long as it tastes OK, they feel the quality should be OK. But this is exactly where cheap food merchants take advantage of us: they can make artificial foods that taste – let’s say- like ribs, but that in actuality do not contain ribs at all, just cheap leftover meats that you would normally not eat.

We need the “Un-Burger”

We have been overfed burgers. Burgers are made with wheat. Wheat is no longer what it was 70 to 100 years ago. Dr. William Davis, the author of the book “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” explained at the 2012 Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas that I attended how the BASF, a major chemical company from Germany was able to chemically modify the genes of wheat in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The farmers liked that the new wheat (called Clearfield wheat) grew with stronger roots, shorter final stems and much larger grains so the yield per acre was higher.

Clearfield what has much more gliadin in it

This type of wheat was patented under the name of Clearfield wheat and sold all around the world. What was not publicized at the time was that the gliadin content increased manifold from the composition of wheat strains used for thousands of years before. Gliadin gets rid of the glue like substance between the gut cells and causes leaky gut syndrome, something that was mentioned at many other lectures throughout the conference. This leads to exposure of immune cells to foreign proteins from the gut, which causes the immune system to hyper react with autoimmune antibodies.

This is not what we want as burgers: but burgers are baked with the wheat that has been chemically force-hybridized into Clearfield wheat.

Un-Burgers, the alternative to regular burgers

The alternative is the “Un-Burger”: a pure meat patty minus the bun, a chicken salad or a turkey salad. You take organic salad and top it with either organic chicken breast or organic turkey breast. In other words there is no messing around with artificial anything. Give consumers honest products that are edible and that taste good! Your salad dressing can for instance be balsamic vinegar with olive oil. This is straight forward, no nonsense; that’s what we need. Lemon juice and olive oil works as well, and so do dressings based on yoghurt, lemon and herbs.

Healthy food wherever we go

We need to learn from the Cleveland experience. You may want to go through your fridge and look what is inside. Are you aware whether there is MSG in your food?

Monosodium glutamate is not a harmless flavor enhancer. It belongs into the group of excitotoxins. The substance can destroy brain cells. It also has the potential to give you a nasty headache, especially if you use larger quantities. When we look for food, we do not want to get a headache or risk losing our memory. I threw out all MSG containing foods in 2001.

MSG comes under many disguised names: autolysed yeast, gelatin, monosodium glutamate, textured protein, yeast food, sodium caseinate and others. Read labels and exclude products with MSG in it. It is a good investment into your future without Alzheimer’s disease.

Avoid sugar; if you need a sweet taste, use stevia

Next you want to make sure that sugar is excluded from your diet; with this I mean extra sugar as well as sugar from processed foods. If you read food labels you probably are aware of how much sugar manufacturers include in processed foods. It tastes pleasing, it is cheap and it makes people come back to buy more. But you as the consumer have a right to get rid of this as it causes your insulin level to increase and on the long term this paves the way to diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease or others. As a result I do not buy anything with added sugar.

If I like to sweeten my coffee or yogurt, I can do it by adding a tiny bit of stevia, a natural plant sweetener. No calories, not insulin response, no worry about diabetes or Alzheimer’s, and no tooth decay either.

Cook at home, it is healthier

The more you can cook at home, the easier it is to take your lunch salad along in a BPA free container. It is better for you, better for your health, and by actively avoiding junk outlets, restaurants will get the message and offer healthier food choices. It is a process of years to change consumer habits. You as well as your children are the beneficiaries.

Here is an example how to order food in a restaurant, if you want to make healthy choices:

Eating out at a restaurant

The first thing the waiter will do is asking you what drinks you want to order. My answer is sparkling (or non-sparkling) mineral water. This establishes that I do not want to order alcoholic drinks. They are empty calories; they are also overpriced. But if you really want to have a glass of red or white wine, pick a good one and only one glass. Studies have shown that the resveratrol in it will prevent heart attacks, but too much of it undermines your liver and the healthy condition of your pancreas.

Next the waiter will come with bread and butter. It is best to skip these offerings. As a matter of fact I usually tell the waiter when I order the mineral water that I do not want any bread. Waiters nowadays understand: non-carbs! (The truth is that you do indeed eat carbs. Vegetables and fruit are carbs!)

How to order food in a restaurant

It goes like a red line through the rest of the order. It starts when I order my meal: a bowl of salad as a starter is great, and next I order meat or fish with a side of vegetables. The waiter understands, and often restaurants will offer to substitute the pasta or potatoes with extra vegetables. After the meal the waiter will temptingly produce the dessert menu: any dessert today? The answer is a simple “no”. After a filling meal nobody needs a dessert that is off the calorie Richter scale!

Usually this is the blueprint for me at a restaurant. With this approach you will not gain weight, but you will leave satisfied. Unfortunately these days in most restaurants we do not have any choices yet with regard to organic food.

Fast Food Kicked Out Of Hospital

Fast Food Kicked Out Of Hospital

Conclusion

We wade through a world of poisoned foods. Farmers spray vegetable and fruit crops with pesticides unless you buy organic; but even with organic foods there are certain, more benign chemicals they have to use to keep the pests away. We need to avoid (at least I choose to do so) GMO foods until we know in decades to come whether they are really safe. Stay away from the modern wheat, unless you welcome gliadin in your diet that will cause leaky gut syndrome or worse disease. One good start is to avoid fast food outlets, which I have done since 2001.

How I have kicked out fast food from my life

I also buy mostly organic food and ask my wife to cook it for us. When we travel, we take as much organic food along as we possibly can. On the road we can look for organic restaurants. They are far and few in between, but many health food stores have salad bars and hot food counters that serve organic foods. If we have a hotel room with a fridge, we can buy organic produce, organic cold cuts, boiled eggs, or cooked seafood, and it is easy to throw together a great tasting, colorful salad.

Healthy food consumption has become a routine. But many have not even begun to stop eating at fast food outlets! Don’t wait for New Year’s resolutions. Make a change for healthier food now! You’ll reap the benefits for life.

Dec
26
2015

Coffee Could Be A Lifesaver

Coffee could be a lifesaver. But coffee has long been a subject of heated discussions. It has been praises or condemnations. Researchers designed many studies in the past; some showed health benefits, some did not. A new, larger study was done by the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA to re-examine this issue for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

Here is the study showing why coffee could be a lifesaver

Mortality was determined among 74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), 93,054 women in the NHS 2, and 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study after a medium follow-up of 22.5 years. 19,524 women and 12,432 men died during that time period. Ming Ding is a doctoral student in the Harvard School of Public Health department of nutrition and was the lead author of the study that was published in the medical journal “Circulation”. She pointed out that in the past there were confounding problems: although many studies had shown that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease, the results in many studies were blurred. Studies often did not distinguish between smokers and nonsmokers; so a beneficial effect from coffee drinking was wiped out by the cardiovascular risk from smoking.

Ding’s studies took this into account and also other confounding factors like how much sugary soda pop people were drinking and whether or not they were eating well. In addition they normalized for other factors that could interfere like drinking alcohol and eating red meat.

Results of the coffee study

Without normalizing for the factors mentioned above the study results were as follows. Study participants had less than a cup of coffee and three cups a day had a 5% to 9% lower risk of dying than those who drank no coffee. Those who drank more than three cups a day did not see any benefit.

However, when the researchers removed all the confounding factors and compared the various groups again, the following emerged:

  • Less than 1 cup of coffee per day: 6% lower death rates than non-coffee drinkers.
  • 1 cup to 3 cups of coffee per day: 8% lower death rates.
  • 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day: 15% lower death rates.
  • More than 5 cups of coffee per day: 12% lower death rates.

Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee reducing mortality rates

Ming Ding was associated with another research paper that had shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. She found that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee reduced the risk of getting diabetes later.

When asked about what would be responsible for the reduced death rates with coffee consumption, Ding explained. “There are at least two known chemicals in coffee, namely lignans and chlorogenic acid. They both could reduce inflammation and help control blood sugar. Also, both could help reduce the risk of heart disease”.

Although there seems to be a linear response up to 5 cups of coffee consumption, above 5 cups this linear relationship disappeared. The researchers could not explain whether coffee consumption reached a saturation point, whether there was yet another obscure confounding factor or whether there were detrimental effects on the adrenal glands with too much coffee consumption.

Other findings like decreased suicide rates with coffee consumption

Another finding was that it did not matter whether the coffee contained caffeine or was caffein free. The results were identical.

Many other studies did not have the large numbers to show whether or not coffee without caffeine was as effective in preventing heart disease.

Finally, there was another peculiar finding; suicide rates were down by 20% to 36%, if a person drank at least one cup of coffee per day. But if a person consumed less than 1 cup of coffee per day the suicide rate was 36% higher than the control group with no coffee consumption. This is a rather peculiar finding, particularly for the consumption of less than 1 cup of coffee. But other studies have also shown a decrease in suicide rates with coffee consumption.

No effect on liver and prostate cancer

Previous studies had shown a reduction in liver and prostate cancer. But after the removal of confounding factors this study did not show any effects on cancer causation. Cancer death rates also did not show a reduction with coffee consumption.

Discussion

The Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA produced high quality nutritional studies for decades. But this study is particularly important, because it is so large giving it more statistical power; secondly, the observation time of an average of 22.5 years is longer than most coffee studies in the past. The investigators also removed the noise (called confounding factors). This helped to accomplish the objective of the study and they ended up with a very meaningful result.

Apart from saving lives by drinking coffee, diabetes and heart attack rates lower as well

The important findings were that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have the same effect of saving lives. Perhaps you want to drink not more than 5 cups of coffee per day. That lowers your risk of premature death by 15%. What counts is the effect of lowering the rate of diabetes and heart attack rates. This is most likely responsible for the risk reduction. At least this was the opinion of the chief investigator. The study showed that coffee consumption did not lead to a reduction in cancer rates.

I sleep better when I drink decaffeinated coffee. So for me the notion that decaffeinated coffee had the same effect as regular coffee was important.

Coffee Could Be A Lifesaver

Coffee Could Be A Lifesaver

Conclusion

Here is a study that is large enough, went long enough, and showed decisively that coffee can reduce the death rate. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee showed the effect of reducing the death rate. The mortality reduction was by 15% up to 5 cups of coffee per day. This finding was true for both males and females. Coffee seems to also reduce the suicide risk by a mechanism that has not yet been determined. Do you want to live 15% longer than your previous life expectancy would have been without coffee? Then you may now have your coffee and enjoy it!

Dec
19
2015

Beer Belly Bad News

You heard the expression “beer belly”, but now we learn “beer belly bad news”. It is an unflattering term for increased abdominal girth, especially in males. It is quite often that this picture is found in middle-aged men who consume more beer than what is good for them, but they may also mill around the hot dog stands at the ball game instead of being physically active. Any leftover calories are stored as belly fat, which protrudes their stomach as if they were pregnant.

There is a big difference between belly fat and body fat. Belly fat is metabolically much more active. Body fat is more sessile. So, it is the belly fat we need to do something about as this has been shown to be associated with heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

 

Abdominal girth to hip ratio instead of BMI

Originally it was thought that excessive weight would best be measured with the body mass index (BMI). But subsequently it was shown that athletes with well-developed muscles could have BMI’s that were in the overweight (between 25.0 and 30.0) or even obese category (more than 30.0). Also, some people with heavy bones can have excessive BMI values despite them being normal based on other measurements. The new measurement is the old fashioned abdominal girth to hip ratio.

Weight gain leads to metabolic syndrome

You measure the abdominal girth, the hip girth and divide the abdominal girth by the hip girth. Normally this should be 80% (=0.8) or less for women and 90% (=0.9) or less for men. But a person with a beer belly will have ratios of 1.2 or 1.5.

If you take blood tests of that person you would also find elevated triglycerides, lowered HDL cholesterol (the protective cholesterol) and elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). In addition, we know from studies that often the insulin level is elevated in the sense of hyperinsulinism. In fact that person has often the metabolic syndrome, which is a characteristic change of the metabolism in an obese person. The blood is thicker with clotting factors floating around, there are inflammatory kinins that circulate and these factors work together on causing hardening of the arteries.

Why is a beer belly dangerous?

There are not only cardiovascular risk on the long-term causing heart attacks and strokes down the road. There is a danger of fat deposits in the liver, called fatty liver disease.

In time this can turn into liver cirrhosis and in some cases develop into liver cancer. Because belly fat causes inflammation in the system including in the lining of the blood vessels, this can in time also affect the immune system, weakening it and eventually allowing cancer to develop. Common cancers that are associated with obesity are breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer in women, prostate cancer in men and pancreas and colon cancer in both sexes.

Estrogen from aromatase in beer bellies

In men beer bellies produce a lot of estrogen, the female hormone. This is so because fat tissue contains the enzyme aromatase that metabolizes male hormones into estrogen. Estrogen in men is only good in traces, but when the body produces it massively, it will counter testosterone production and will cause heart attacks and strokes.

What can you do about a beer belly?

We need to understand how beer bellies develop. One of the sources of fat from beer bellies is the consumption of foods that contain a lot of fructose. Food manufacturers have been diligent in mixing high fructose corn syrup into sugary drinks and into a myriad of processed foods.

Sugar itself can only be processed and stored until the glycogen stores in the liver and the muscles are filled. The liver metabolizes a surplus of sugar into triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. This is also the case for any fructose that comes from metabolized sucrose (table sugar) and from the high fructose corn syrup popular with the food processing industry. One problem is that fructose can only be processed by the liver, while glucose gets directly taken up by cells with the help of insulin.

German obesity wave after WWII in the 1960’s

The surplus of fructose metabolizes into triglycerides and LDL cholesterol before the body stores it as fat in fat cells. Unfortunately a lot of the fat will end up between your guts, in the liver as fatty liver and in the beer belly, a metabolically more active form of fat.

The sad part is that in the 1960’s I have seen the German economic wonder (“Wirtschaftswunder”) where many mid fifty to mid sixty business men died as a result of obesity and subsequent heart attacks and strokes. At that time Germans who were starving during World War II lived it up. This was in the late fifties and 1960’s. They ate whatever they could: cakes, fatty cheeses, whipped cream, fatty foods like pork roasts and beef.

Unhealthy hydrogenated fats, starchy food and sugar caused beer bellies

They also consumed loads of bread, buns, pasta and sugar. Margarine also became popular with its hydrogenated fatty acids that also contained free radicals. The end result was that they gained weight, did not exercise and developed their beer bellies.

In the 1980’s the school of thought was that saturated fatty acids  were responsible for heart attacks, strokes and obesity.  A low fat/high carb diet became popular and continued to steadily increase. Sure, the hydrogenated fatty acids did not help and should be cut out. But the bigger problem was the consumption of high fructose corn syrup and over-consumption of high glycemic-index carbohydrates.

Steps of how to get rid of the beer belly

Here is the solution of what to do get rid of the beer belly.

Eliminate sugar and high fructose from diet

Remove sugar and high fructose corn syrup from your diet.

Remove empty starches from your diet

The second effective step is to cut out as many empty starches that you can cut out like white rice, bread, sweets, cookies, cakes, ice cream and pasta. Starchy foods metabolize in the gut into sugar, which causes an insulin response. The extra insulin is responsible for developing inflammation in the arteries, which eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes.

Regular exercise

Exercise on a regular basis. This will produce HDL cholesterol, the protective cholesterol, which balances LDL cholesterol.

Rebalance your food intake

Perhaps the most important step is to rebalance your food intake. With this I mean that you replace high glycemic-index carbs with low glycemic-index carbs. This means you will eat a lot of salads, steamed vegetables, and fruit. This gives you a lot of extra fiber, which your system needs to slow down the rate of sugar absorption. It also  helps you to lower LDL cholesterol and detoxify your body in the gut where fiber binds toxins.

Moderate your alcohol intake

If you are heavily into alcoholic drinks, this is another source of refined carbohydrates. They metabolize into LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and can cause fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis. A moderate consumption of alcohol (one drink for women per day and two drinks for men per day) lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes, while excessive alcohol intake increases the risk.

Bioidentical hormone replacement

Bioidentical hormone replacement may be something you have not heard about. But if you are a woman above the age of 40 or a man above the age of 50 chances are that you need some hormone tests. As a male, your natural hormone production from your testicles or adrenal glands is likely not keeping up.  As a woman, your ovaries or adrenal glands are no longer keeping up with the demand of regular life. Part of the aging process is that the production of our sex hormones slows down. It does so shortly before menopause in women and shortly before andropause in men.

Lack of function of key organs in menopause and andropause

This will not only manifest itself in hot flashes and sleep disturbance in women. Men experience erectile dysfunction and grumpiness. Eventually this leads to a lack of energy production in the heart, the brain and other organ systems. When these organs have sex hormone receptors, but circulating sex hormones are missing, they cannot function optimally.

Lack of hormones causes heart attacks, strokes and cancer

A lack of hormones translates into yet another cause of heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers. This is an area where conventional medicine disagrees with anti-aging medicine. Years in general practice have taught me that heart attacks, strokes, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer happen more often when hormones are missing in both sexes. Cancer of the breasts, uterus and ovaries and prostate cancer are more common when sex hormones are missing. These cancers occur when natural sex hormone production declined.

On the other hand, with bioidentical hormone replacement the metabolism of all cells will return to normal. With this the likelihood of not developing all these illnesses at an earlier time is diminishing as well. It is not a panacea for eternal life, but it will add significant longevity. And with this comes the knowledge that you will not get premature disabilities, which is what we all need.

Beer Belly Bad News

Beer Belly Bad News

Conclusion

We need to assess our food intake habits and cut out the items that contribute to the beer belly. Next we need to ask ourselves what other change in lifestyle we require.  Think about anything to improve our body shape and our energy metabolism. Life is too precious to just throw away years of fruitful living in our golden retirement years. Work on these factors in midlife or even in younger years and you will enjoy disease-free aging.

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Dec
05
2015

Processed Meat Causes Cancer

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that processed meat causes cancer. The report also stated that to a lesser degree red meat is also cancer causing. Overall there are 34,000 people per year worldwide who die from cancers that are related to the consumption of processed foods. They are mainly colorectal cancers, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Seeing deaths from processed meat in perspective

When you relate the 34,000 processed food related cancers to all of the 8.2 million cancer deaths per year worldwide, the cancer numbers related to processed food amount to only 0.41 % of all the cancer deaths in the world, which is a very small percentage. In comparison to these numbers smoking as a cause of cancer is responsible for the death of 1 million people per year. Furthermore, there are 600,000 deaths due to drinking alcohol, and 200,000 deaths due to breathing polluted air. Of course it has to be emphasized that it is important to avoid cancer causes wherever possible!

Nevertheless we are talking about preventative deaths and the public should be informed about what the risks are due to consuming processed meats, cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol and breathing polluted air.

Pancreatic cancer study

A large multi-ethnic study analyzed data from 190,545 men and women at the Cancer Research Center at the University of Hawaii. In an average follow-up time of 7 years there were 482 incidents of pancreatic cancer, and it became obvious that processed meats play a role in the increase of pancreatic cancer. After taking other risk factors into consideration like a positive family history, age, smoking and diabetes mellitus, those patients who consumed the largest amount of processed meats had a 67% increased risk for pancreatic cancer as opposed to those who had the lowest intake of these foods. A diet rich in red meats increased the pancreatic cancer risk by about 50%.

Alternatives to red meat

Poultry, fish, dairy products and egg intake showed no pancreatic cancer risk factor, nor did it matter how much fat, saturated fat or cholesterol was consumed over the 7 year observation period.

The lead investigator of the study, Dr. Ute Noethlings, observed that the risk increase is a consequence of meat processing. The main culprit would very likely be carcinogenic substances which are used in processed meat production.

Too much red meat

Grain fed or corn fed and antibiotic treated regular beef changes the gut bacteria and can cause superbugs. The change of the gut flora can lead to inflammation in the gut lining and a condition called “leaky gut syndrome”. We carry almost 2 pounds of gut bacteria in us at any given time. Residual antibiotics from regular beef and chicken reduce that amount and change the composition of our gut flora.

Adopt sensible nutrition

Consuming regular beef will change your liver metabolism and lead to accelerated hardening of the arteries. This in turn causes deadly heart attacks and strokes. On the other hand, grass fed beef or organic beef do not have the same effect. To prevent leaky gut syndrome, heart attacks and strokes from developing you can also take probiotics every day, which should include these two species: Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus. This keeps your gut flora stable and does not allow your food to undermine your health. But this does not mean that you pop a supplement, and you can blissfully ignore sensible nutrition!

Red meat can cause heart attacks in diabetics

Red meat is one of the sources of protein, but doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health reported in the January edition of Diabetes Care, that a type 2 diabetes diet should go easy on red meat.

Type 2 diabetics are at risk for subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD), and intake of iron rich food was significantly associated with a greater risk of fatal CHD. The results come from a prospective study of 6,161 women from the Nurses’ Health Study.

Diabetes more common when diet contains red meat

All of these patients reported a diagnosis of adult onset diabetes, and they were followed between 1980 through 2000. This amounts to an impressive 54,455 person-years follow-up. Attention was paid to the food questionnaires, which were monitored for the consumption of iron and red meat. Red meat consists of beef, pork or lamb as a main dish. Red meat is also in beef in roast beef sandwiches and mixed dishes, hamburger, hot dog, processed meat and bacon. The examiners of the study also took note  of other nutrients such as seafood and poultry.
Women with diabetes who ate the most iron in the form of heme found in red meats had a 50% increased risk of total coronary heart disease as compared to those with the lowest intake. The risk ratio with women was more obvious for postmenopausal women when compared with premenopausal women .

Western diet with red meat and processed meat causes higher heart attack and cancer rates

Lean beef may be a good protein food to the average population. But type 2 diabetics might choose to cut back on red meat and processed red meat sources. They can replace red meat with a heart-friendlier choice. Fresh seafood, rich in omega -3 fatty acids, would rank high on the list of a healthy eating plan.

Another prospective study of 72,113 women over 18 years found a definitive relationship between dietary patterns and cancer and heart attacks. A prudent diet with high intakes of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, poultry, and whole grains had a very low cancer and heart attack rate. Conversely a Western diet consisting of high intakes of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, French fries, and sweets/desserts led to a higher cardiovascular mortality risk of 22% and a higher cancer mortality risk of 16%.

Processed Meat Causes Cancer

Processed Meat Causes Cancer

Conclusion

The World Health Organization announced that processed food is carcinogenic. This piece of news is not entirely new. Hopefully it will work its way into the consciousness of the population at large. Meat processors producing sausages, ham and other processed meat varieties will not stop advertising their products. They advertise in a way to make them sound tasty and delicious for the consumer. Colorful images seduce the prospective buyer. These images make you drool. But this is a make-believe world in the art of commercials. In the end it is the consumer who has to make a decision which food is tasty and also beneficial.

Healthy food leads to healthy people

Customers need to make the choice for health and stop buying foods that border to being nutritionally hazardous products. This is when we will see a true change in health statistics. But while you are thinking about changes, do not forget to quit smoking. Also, cut down your alcohol consumption and perhaps, if possible move to a less polluted area. All of that will help to reduce mortality rates!

More info about pancreatic cancer: Causes of cancer of the pancreas.

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Nov
10
2015

Sugary Soda Drinks Make You Sick

Dr. Frank Hu and colleagues have recently re-examined the old question of whether sugary soda drinks make you sick. They usually contain high fructose corn syrup, a mixture of 55% fructose and 45% glucose. This sugar mix can be found in sugary soda drinks as well as in many processed foods like fruit spreads. Dr. Hu’s publication is listed in PubMed , but details can be found in this summary.

The study found that one or two cans of sugary soda drinks per day lead to

  • As high as a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes,
  • A 35 percent greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and
  • A 16 percent increased risk of stroke.

Difference in metabolism between fructose and glucose

The study also found that there is a difference of how glucose, the main sugar that the body uses for energy is metabolized versus fructose from high fructose corn syrup or the breakdown of table sugar, a disaccharide consisting of glucose and fructose combined as one molecule. Glucose gets directly absorbed from the gut into the blood circulation and with the help of insulin gets further absorbed directly into body cells. In contrast the liver metabolizes fructose into triglycerides, which can cause fatty liver disease and insulin resistance. Fructose also raises the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). This in turn is a risk factor for developing diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

It is fructose in sugary drinks and processed foods that are largely responsible for weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The newest finding: heart failure can also be caused by high fructose corn syrup

A study in Sweden has recently shown that sugary drinks can cause heart failure. Researchers followed 4200 Swedish men for 12 years in regard to their food habits. The study found that the men who drank at least two sweetened drinks per day had a 23% higher risk of developing heart failure. Dr. Susanna Larsson, a co-author of the study, said: “The takeaway message is that people who regularly consume sweetened beverages should consider limiting their consumption to reduce their risk of heart failure”. Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans. It develops either on its own in persons with inadequately treated high blood pressure or in people who had a previous heart attack. It is a condition, which disables the heart to effectively pump enough blood with nutrients and oxygen into the tissues.

Symptoms of heart failure

People who develop this condition feel the symptoms: they get short of breath with minimal activity. They also may wake up short of breath in the middle of the night. It is a miserable life, as people with heart failure experience severe restrictions in their daily activities. Even walking a flight of stairs becomes a struggle or even an impossible task. Total disability is the next step. The key is prevention: do not use high fructose corn syrup, and stay away from sugar in any form; instead use stevia to sweeten your food when needed.

Be careful how you replace saturated fatty acids

Dr. Frank Hu has also participated in a study that spanned over 24 to 30 years and examined the replacement of saturated fat with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), monounsaturated fatty acids and whole grain carbohydrates. The study involved 84,628 women (Nurses’ Health Study, 1980 to 2010), and 42,908 men (Health Professionals Follow-up Study, 1986 to 2010). Detailed questionnaires assessed the diet every 4 years. 7,667 cases of cardiovascular disease (CHD) occurred during the long observation times. Compared to controls that did not change their diet with respect to saturated fatty acid intake, those who replaced with PUFA had 25% less CHD, those who replaced with monounsaturated fatty acids had 15% less CHD and those who replaced saturated fatty intake with whole grains had 9% less CHD. A subgroup that had replaced saturated fatty acid intake with carbohydrates from refined starches/added sugars ended up with a 10% increase of CHD.

Cutting fructose out of diet lowers cholesterol and weight

A new study by Dr. Robert Lustig and colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco showed on 43 children that a change of diet reducing dietary sugar from 28% to 10% and replacing it with other complex carbohydrates led to a significant reduction in triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure.

The nucleus accumbens in the brain is the reward center for addictions

The fructose stimulus was taken away, which stimulates a part in the brain, called nucleus accumbens, where the reward center is located. This is the reason why the more sugar you take in, the more addicted to sugar you become. Not surprisingly when physicians changed the diet, there were internal signs of improving with regard to blood tests. But physically the children also showed weight loss just within 10 days as their total calorie intake had reduced. There is another observation with regard to fructose metabolism. Normally after a meal there is suppression of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. But when you drink a sugary drink with fructose in it, there is no suppression of ghrelin. The result is that you do not feel satisfied and you keep on consuming fructose containing drinks resulting in weight gain.

Sugary Soda Drinks Make You Sick

Sugary Soda Drinks Make You Sick

Conclusion

What we eat matters in terms of long-term consequences. This is certainly true for refined sugar intake. Don’t lull yourself into the belief that honey is “healthy”. Even though it is a natural product, your body treats it according to its chemical composition. It is sugar, and unfortunately it will get you into health problems naturally. Even the fashionable agave syrup contains largely fructose: again, this is bad news for your health! No matter what type of sugar you choose, the long-term consequences have haunting qualities. Consequences of sugar intake are weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. You will agree that is not worth to take any of these risks just to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Alternatives to sugar

Biting into a crisp, sweet apple is enjoyable and has never harmed anybody. Eating a small helping of fruit salad to top off a meal can be a delicious finale to dinner. If you need a sweetener, it is better for you to use the plant-derived stevia, which is available as a powder or a liquid. Smallest quantities are adequately sweetening foods. Stevia has no calories and none of the consequences of sugar: you’ll enjoy the sweetness without the bitter aftereffects of tooth decay or heart disease!

Nov
07
2015

Eat Your Avocado

“Eat your avocado” is an appropriate invitation to eat this super food with many positive effects on people’s health. That is to say, first, it helps arthritis, in addition it is good for your vision, besides it protects against cardiovascular disease, moreover it fights metabolic syndrome, further it helps in weight maintenance and finally, it even protects against some cancers. Avocado contains healthy oils and many vitamins and minerals.

Avocado composition

80% of an avocado is fiber making it a valuable food to prevent colon cancer. Among the minerals it is noteworthy that avocados are rich in boron and potassium. In terms of vitamins it is rich in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K and pantothenic acid. It does not contain cholesterol, but contains monounsaturated fat (oleic acid). In fact, oleic acid is the compound in olive oil responsible for lowering your blood pressure. The oils in avocado contain first 71% monounsaturated fatty acids, secondly 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids and thirdly 16% saturated fatty acids. This mix promotes healthy blood lipids, but also helps in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. In addition to all that avocados contain phytosterols, a number of carotenoids, non-carotenoid antioxidants, alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and glutathione.

Cardiovascular disease protection

The combination of fiber and folate in avocado help to reduce LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL leads to hardening of arteries. The folate reduces homocysteine, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Phytosterols that are similar in structure to cholesterol compete with cholesterol absorption in the gut.

In a 2015 study several diets were compared with regard to LDL lowering potential, either a low fat diet, or two forms of medium fat diets, where one contained one avocado per day. The results were surprising in that the low fat diet led to a reduction of LDL by 7.4 mg/dL while the avocado diet caused a reduction of LDL by 13.5 mg/dL.

The oils in avocados also seem to suppress the appetite center in the brain helping people to eat less and controlling obesity and diabetes.

Arthritis prevention

In a 2014 study hip osteoarthritis was examined for over 3 years. Researchers could show that an extract from avocados and soybeans was protective of osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory components of avocado like omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, phytosterols and non-carotenoid antioxidants all work together in countering joint inflammation. Boron abundantly contained in avocado also was found to be essential for healthy joints.

Eye protection

Avocado has its own mixture of carotenoids, like alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, neochrome, chrysanthemaxanthin and others. The green pulp contains these. They have anti-inflammatory properties. The fatty acid profile of avocados helps to absorb carotenoids, as they are fat-soluble. Researchers conducted a a two phase clinical study to show that avocado added to salsa or to salad was leading to a 5- to 15-fold higher absorption of the carotenoids in salsa and salad when compared to avocado-free salsa and salad.

This is an important observation that we should remember: always eat some avocado with any fruit or vegetable that contains carotenoids, as this will improve the absorption of the carotenoids tremendously.

Why is that so important for eye disease? In a 2008 study a total of 1802 women aged 50 to 79 years from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Oregon were followed who had intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin above the 78th percentile. Researchers compared these women to women below the 28th percentiles in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. This involved eye examinations in both groups. The eye specialists examined their eye lenses for nuclear cataracts. The surprising finding was that women with the highest quintile category of diet or serum levels of lutein and zeaxanthin had 32% less nuclear cataracts than women in the lowest quintile of lutein and zeaxanthin.

The conclusion was that carotenoids of avocados have vision protective effects.

Metabolic syndrome and obesity

This 2013 study included 17,567 US adults and part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Researchers compared avocado eaters and non-avocado consumers. Interestingly, avocado eaters had a much better overall food quality in their diet. They ate more vegetables, fruit, fiber and less added sugar. Calorie and sodium intake were identical in the two groups. But body weight, body mass index and waist circumference were significantly lower in avocado eaters than in the non-avocado control group. The cardio protective HDL cholesterol was significantly higher in the avocado group. The odds ratio for developing metabolic syndrome, the change in metabolism due to obesity was 50% lower in avocado consumers than in non-consumers. All of this is good news for the consumer, if we eat some avocado.

Skin, beauty and anti-aging

We don’t like to develop too many wrinkles, as they are a sign of premature aging. The oils of avocados have been used for some time in skin care products as they stimulate collagen production in the skin and reduce wrinkles. But when you eat avocados, the carotenoid substances (such as lutein and zeaxanthin) serve for skin protection, protecting you from UV light damage. In addition, avocados contain vitamin E and glutathione, which help to scavenge free radicals. Otherwise the skin would prematurely age and wrinkle. The end result is that you see a reduction in the development of wrinkles, when you consume avocados. The beneficial effects on your blood vessels in combination with protecting your skin will age your body slower, a point that has been noted in the anti-aging literature.

Cancer blocking properties

In the following I will briefly review the findings of several cancer research groups, but this review is by no means complete.

Leukemia

This 2015 study describes a new chemotherapeutic agent, derived from avocado that they named Avocatin B. Avocatin B is active against the difficult to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). It works by targeting mitochondrial components of AML, but does not affect healthy leukocytes or leukocyte progenitor stem cells.

Colon and esophageal cancer

The authors of this study from Iran describe four phytoextracts of avocado for treatment of patients with esophageal cancer and colon cancer. They noted that the phytoextracts have a much lower toxicity than standard chemotherapeutic agents and significantly slow growth of these cancers. They plan to use these phytoextracts as complementary treatments of esophageal and colon cancers.

Oral cancers

This paper describes that avocado extracts were shown to be successful in treating oral cancers.

Cancer prevention

In this paper it is discussed that the phytochemicals in avocados arrest cancer cells in their cell division cycle and lead to apoptosis, which is natural cell death. The authors believe that eating avocado regularly can help prevent a whole array of different cancers by this mechanism.

Eat Your Avocado

Eat Your Avocado

Conclusion

Avocados are a super food, which has many beneficial effects. Perhaps one of the outstanding effects is prevention of obesity and the metabolic syndrome as discussed. Women may want to eat it because of the beneficial effects on skin and beauty. We all should have an interest in wanting to prevent heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

But who does not want to prevent cataract surgery and keep good vision until a ripe old age? It is possible by eating avocados. And would you not want to prevent osteoarthritis? Eat avocados and add some omega-3 fatty acid from distilled fish oil as well to get the full anti-inflammatory effect. Your joints will thank you and let you swiftly move wherever you want to go.

I thought you should know about the health benefits of eating avocados. They make a nice addition to your food, not only as guacamole, but in a wide variety of dishes. Use a few slices on your salad. Make a tasty dip. And find inspiring recipes online that you can easily find and copy.

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Oct
24
2015

Best Anti-Aging Products

It seems like every day there is some news about a vitamin or supplement that has the reputation of being good for you, so here are the best anti-aging products. But the ordinary person does not really know what will have an effect on anti-aging and what will not.

In the following I will review the key vitamins and supplements that have published anti-aging effects. With this I mean that there has been a consensus of anti-aging experts that several studies have shown a positive clinical effect of vitamins and supplements. Not all claims in the media are true.

Vitamins and supplements needed for heart attack and stroke prevention

Several studies stressed that vitamin K2 is a key vitamin. It removes calcium from the vascular compartment and transports it into the bones for storage. Osteoporosis prevention and prevention of heart attacks and strokes have a close link.  In my opinion this is not common knowledge. Another study from 2013, the Women’s Health Initiative in the US used a much larger patient base of 36,282 postmenopausal women. Researchers followed these women for up to 7 years. Initially there was some confusion as to how compliant the patients were in taking the required 1000 mg of calcium carbonate and 400 IU of vitamin D3. To clarify, the supplement compliant group when compared 7 years into the trial had 35% to 38% less fractures of the hip than the placebo group.

Vit. D3 did not cause kidney stones and needs to be taken in higher doses

This supplementation did not cause kidney stones in the study group, as some physicians often cite as the reason why they do not want to recommend supplementation with vitamin D3 and calcium. In other words all of these kidney stone concerns you have so often read in the media are not true.

  • The second vitamin (beside vit. K2) needed is vitamin D3 in doses of 4000 IU to 5000 IU per day. This helps to absorb calcium in the gut, but also helps to transport it into the bones away from the arteries. Apart from these vitamins and supplements regular exercise is necessary to condition heart and lungs. The overall effect is that osteoporosis, heart attacks and strokes are prevented. In addition, keep in mind that patients also need to avoid sugar as well to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which causes heart attacks.

PQQ, C0-Q-10, magnesium, hawthorn

  • You also need PQQ and Co-Q-10 for heart attack and stroke prevention (see below). These two supplements strengthen the mitochondria, the tiny power packages within the heart muscle cells and the brain cells. The better the support, the more resilient the heart and the brain are to the changes with aging. The heart and the brain are particularly rich in mitochondria.
  • There is a need for vitamin D3, alpha-lipoic acid and resveratrol in combination for prevention of heart attacks and strokes, because of their anti-inflammatory actions (see below).
  • Studies showed that magnesium and green leaf tea extract are effective in preventing heart attacks
  • Hawthorn is an herb that has been found useful for prevention of heart disease and treatment of mild heart failure (in Germany known as “Crataegutt”).

Improvement of mitochondrial function

If we want to have energy when we age, we need to take care of our mitochondria. This is where the biochemical processes take place that produce energy for us.

As I have summarized in this blog, there are several steps and supplements that will help us preserve mitochondria:

  • Mitochondrial aging is slowed down by ubiquinol (=Co-Q-10). Co-Q-10 repairs DNA damage to your mitochondria.
  • Another supplement, PQQ (=Pyrroloquinoline quinone) stimulates your healthy mitochondria to multiply. Thus, between the two supplements you will have more energy as optimal mitochondrial function is ensured.

Lifestyle changes, resveratrol, alpha-lipoic acid

  • There are simple lifestyle changes you can make: eat less calories as this will stimulate the genes, which in turn stimulates your cell metabolism including the mitochondria.
  • Resveratrol, the supplement from red grape skin can also stimulate the metabolism of your mitochondria. Exercise more and regularly as this will also stimulate your mitochondria to multiply similar to the effects of PQQ.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid is an anti-oxidant that counters the slow-down of the mitochondrial metabolism.

Anti-inflammatory vitamins and supplements

Since the mid 1990’s the medical profession knows that inflammation plays an important role in the development of heart attacks, strokes, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus, arthritis (both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis), multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. Here is a list of vitamins and supplements that counter inflammation:

  • Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 is an anti-inflammatory helping to prevent heart disease and cancer.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid: This anti-inflammatory is both water and oil soluble. It is an antioxidant protecting from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and may reduce the size of a stroke.
  • Bioflavonoids: Bioflavonoids are found in fruit and vegetables. One of the most potent ones is resveratrol. Resveratrol prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which prevents heart attacks. It also prevents Alzheimer’s disease and helps prevent insulin resistance as well.

Garlic, ginger tea, ginseng, green tea extract

  • Garlic: This herb has anti-inflammatory effects, stimulates the immune system and lowers blood pressure moderately. It is in use as an adjunct in treating high blood pressure, also for prevention of heart disease and of various cancers. It helps to reduce inflammation with osteoarthritis.
  • Ginger root extract: Ginger root is an anti-inflammatory, but also has anti-nausea effects and is useful for seasickness, morning sickness and side-effects from chemotherapy. Arthritis is also helped by it.
  • Ginseng: Ginseng is a popular herbal medicine; it has anti-inflammatory effects and improves immune function. Often people take it during the cold and flu season.
  • Green tea extract: Green tea extract is anti-inflammatory and has anti-oxidant effects. It is used for cancer prevention, stomach upsets, and diarrhea. It also helps in patients with Crohn’s disease and helps prevent heart disease.

Melatonin, rutin, selenium

  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also helps you to sleep. In higher doses it is used as anti-cancer medicine as it stimulates the immune system.
  • Rutin: Rutin is a bioflavonoid that is used to strengthen blood vessels, helps in stroke prevention and helps with osteoarthritis.
  • Selenium: Selenium is a trace element and an important anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. In other words, it stimulates the immune system, helps in prevention of cancer, and converts T4 thyroid hormone into the more active T3 thyroid hormone.

Cod liver oil, coenzyme Q-10, flax seed

  • Cod liver oil (omega-3) and krill oil are both omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil contains more DHA, while fish oil derived omega-3 fatty acids contains more omega-3. Both krill oil and fish oil are needed as supplements to prevent arthritis, strokes, heart attacks, osteoporosis, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s and inflammation.
  • Coenzyme Q10 has antioxidant properties, but also anti-inflammatory properties and helps to prevent cancer and heart disease.
  • Flax seed: Ground flax seed has anti-inflammatory omega-3 in it, cancer-protective lignans, blood pressure lowering properties and mild blood thinning activity. Flax seed has a rather tough shell. With a cheap coffee grinder you can easily grind your flax seed. In a few seconds it is ground. It is important to wipe out the grinder after use with a damp cloth to prevent future rancidity of leftover ground flax seed.

Methylation defects and vitamin supplementation

Some people are born with enzymatic defects in the methylation pathways. They are more prone to diverse diseases like autism, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, adrenal dysfunction, addiction, cancer, allergies, immune weakness, diabetes etc.

Here is a list of the methylation pathway vitamins and trace elements important for those who are born into families where mental illness or diabetes is frequent, as they are the ones who often have methylation defects, many of which can be corrected (Ref.1).

  • Vitamin B2/riboflavin: Riboflavin is used for neonatal jaundice as part of phototherapy. Some adult patients experience relief from migraines.
  • Vitamin B6/pyridoxine: Pyridoxal phosphate is a co-factor of many enzymatic reactions in amino acid, glucose and lipid metabolism.

B-vitamins supporting nerves and bone marrow function

  •  Vitamin B12 is essential for your nerve function, bone marrow function (or severe anemia follows). It gives you energy and keeps you normal, but it is not a cure all. Sometimes in older patients absorption is a problem, but B12 injections every couple of months can easily overcome this.
  • Research about neural tube defects (spina bifida) in the baby of a folate deficient mother led to the discovery of folic acid. Heavy smokers and drinkers can get folate deficient.DNA synthesis requires folate as a co-factor.

Magnesium and zinc

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions within the body. It helps with asthma, bone health, muscle pain and prevents heart attacks. It also cures psychiatric disease like anxiety and agitation. Magnesium is a co-factor for many enzymes reactions.
  • Zinc: Because zinc is an essential trace element, it is involved in many organ systems and zinc is used for many health problems. People may have heard that zinc is an important supplement in male infertility and erectile dysfunction. But patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, psoriasis, macular degeneration and night blindness. Zinc is a natural opponent of copper meaning that when zinc is low, copper levels in the blood are often high. This constellation can cause insomnia.

What makes a vitamin or supplement an anti-aging product?

If a vitamin or supplement fits into one of these following classes, it helps slow down aging and thus would be considered an anti-aging product:

1. Antioxidants (fight oxidant stress)

First of all, a typical representative would be vitamin C, which prevents oxidative damage of our DNA. Others are B vitamins (B1, B3, B6, B12 and folate), acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, bioflavonoid, garlic, ginger root extract, Gingko biloba, ginseng, green tea extract, L-glutathione, magnesium, manganese, melatonin, N-acetyl cysteine, potassium, rutin, selenium, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10. We have discussed them above.

2. Anti-inflammatory action (fighting inflammation)

Secondly, vitamin D3 comes to mind, which suppresses inflammation in nerves (MS) or in blood vessels preventing heart disease. Others are alpha-lipoic acid, bioflavonoid, garlic, ginger root extract, ginseng, green tea extract, melatonin, rutin, selenium, cod liver oil (omega-3), coenzyme Q10, and ground flax seed.

3. Preserving mitochondrial function

Thirdly, B-vitamins and coenzyme Q10 are examples that do this. Mitochondria are important to provide energy in the body. Others are acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, ginger root extract, ginseng and selenium.

4. Prevent insulin resistance

Furthermore, there are vitamins and supplements that will prevent insulin resistance. This is pretty important as diabetes, where insulin resistance is present will shorten life expectancy. Ginseng, green tea extract, magnesium are examples of supplements that prolong life through countering insulin resistance. Others that do this are B vitamins (B1, B3, B6, B12 and folate), vitamin D, alpha-lipoic acid, beta-carotene, chromium picolinate, garlic, ginger root extract, manganese, potassium, and selenium.

5. Providing membrane integrity

In addition, other supplements are prolonging life by providing membrane integrity: beta-carotene, garlic and selenium belong into this group. Others are ginger root extract, ginseng, cod liver oil (omega-3), and ground flax seed.

6. Cure of partial methylation defects

Finally, partial methylation defects can be cured with B vitamins explained earlier and this has been shown to help improve some mental disorders significantly, improve life quality, prevent suicides and prolong life.

Many vitamins and supplements have not only an action in one of those categories, but in two or more (Ref. 2).  B1, B3, B6, B12 and folate belong into category 1, 3, 4 and 6, so there is a huge overlap and this is what anti-aging physicians consider an advantage. Often conventional physicians shake their heads and say that the overlapping actions would prove that they are worthless.

Overlapping actions of supplements and vitamins

However, as time went on conventional physicians have started to adopt more and more the anti-aging concept, because science is proving in large trials from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, from various Chinese universities, from American universities like Loyola University and Harvard Medical School, Salk Institute and others that the overlapping concept is valid.

Because of the overlapping effect of vitamins and supplements you may not need to take all of these listed here as long as you have a good overlap. I have listed dosages of vitamins and supplements in this link (scroll half-way down to the table entitled: Vitamins and supplements, your basic “life insurance”).

Best Anti-Aging Products

Best Anti-Aging Products

Conclusion

Although the topic seems to be complex, the basic idea is simple. We need to get away from processed food and return to eating whole foods, preferably organic foods. A good diet is the Mediterranean diet with an emphasis on vegetables, fruit and lean meat. Use mostly olive oil in salads. With this basic approach you will receive most of the vitamins and supplements I mentioned above. You can get more sophisticated and add some of the key vitamins and supplements I mentioned.

Some lab tests may help with supplements

It is also useful to use lab tests to establish, whether there are vitamin deficiencies, and it is equally important that vitamin levels-such as vitamin D3- are not too high and not too low. Supplementation without verifying the need for it or exceeding the required dosage is not contributing to health (Ref.3). Many of the issues, which you find in this blog you will also find in more depth in my anti-aging book (Ref.4).

References

Ref.1: William J. Walsh, PhD: “Nutrient Power. Heal your biochemistry and heal your brain”. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014.

Ref.2: Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

Ref. 3: Ronald Klatz, MD, DO and Robert Goldman, MD, PhD, DO, FAASP, Executive Editors: “Encyclopedia of Clinical Anti-Aging Medicine & Regenerative Biomedical Technologies”. American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA, 2012.

Ref. 4: Dr. Schilling’s book, March 2014, Amazon.com:“A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging: With recipes for 1 week provided by Christina Schilling

Oct
03
2015

What Stress Does

I like to discuss what stress does. We all are stressed out at times. Some people are stressed all the time and this is called chronic stress.

Acute stress

Let’s say you were in a minor rear-ender accident. It is annoying, but at least you had no injury. But you have to deal with the insurance company, get the repair done and maybe get a car rental during the time of repair. Yes, you may have a few days where you feel that your hands are shaky and your heart pounds, or your sleep may not be restful. But when everything is done things are back to normal. This is an example of acute stress with a shorter running time. It has a limited severity, is an inconvenience, but it does not really affect your body on the long-term.

Chronic stress

Let’s assume the car accident was more severe and you received a personal injury with a broken leg. You end up in hospital and the orthopedic surgeon fixes the fracture with a surgical plate. The leg has to be in a cast for several weeks, and you have to use crutches. Every day you feel reminded of the car accident, because it is awkward to walk with crutches. After weeks you notice that you have gained weight. Your doctor is also worried about you because your blood pressure showed higher readings. You do not sleep as well, waking up frequently and having nightmares about another fictitious accident. On top of that you came down with the flu. What happened here? The stress reaction released cortisol, which weakened your immune system and may be responsible for catching the flu.

High blood pressure and increased alcohol consumption

On the long-term cortisol can also contribute to high blood pressure, but so can alcohol consumption. You may have increased your alcohol intake in the evening to relax more, but with the chronic stress and the cortisol increase this can cause high blood pressure. The weight gain that you noticed has to do with the fact that you cannot work out any more because of your healing leg fracture and you having to use crutches. Inadvertently you may also eat a bit more rich food; a lot of people do that as food can be used as comfort food.

Disbalance of melatonin and cortisol with stress

And why do you sleep less well? Chronic cortisol elevation leads to lower melatonin levels, as these two hormones are natural opponents. A high melatonin level leads to a low cortisol level and vice versa. With relaxation methods you can lower cortisol and the melatonin level increases normalizing your sleep. Chronically elevated cortisol can also lead to weight gain as sugar is converted into fatty acids that are stored as subcutaneous fat. Muscles can melt down when cortisol is high giving the appearance of spindly arms and legs.

Causes of chronic stress

Holmes and Rahe tested a stress scale in 1970, which has become the standard ever since. You get a certain amount of points for a stressful event, e.g. 100 for the death of a spouse; 45 point for retirement; 23 for trouble with the boss etc. Add up all of the points that are affect you right now; if the total score is less than 150 points there is only a minor risk of getting medical problems from the chronic stress; for 150 to 299 points the risk of illness is moderate and for 300 and more points you are at a significant risk for illness.

Physical illness and mental illness from stress

There is physical illness and mental illness that chronic stress can cause. Physical illness can be high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries. The long-term risks from this are possible heart attacks and strokes. But chronic adrenalin and noradrenalin elevation associated with chronic stress can burn part of your brain cells in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex. This can lead to memory loss, spatial memory loss and aggression. Mental illness caused by chronic stress can be anxiety, depression, social isolation, panic attacks and panic disorder. Psychosomatic symptoms can include headaches, back pain, abdominal pain and difficulties concentrating.

Job stress and cancer

Perhaps one of the best examples of job stress and cancer is a study where the amount of breast cancer was correlated to the amount of stress. I discussed this in another blog. Briefly, women with a less responsibility had the lowest rate of breast cancer, but they too had some stress as there was a higher breast cancer risk after 15 years on the job versus only 5 years on the job. The same study showed that women with high responsibility had the highest breast cancer rates.

How stress leads to higher breast cancer rates

A hormone disbalance can explain this based on high cortisol levels associated with chronic stress. If cortisol is high, the cortisol binding globulin (CBG) increases; this in turn also binds more circulating progesterone, as progesterone attaches to CBG. CBG is a transport protein for both cortisol and progesterone. The end result is that estrogenic compounds get the upper hand, a condition called estrogen dominance. I have explained under the above link that this was the real reason for the increase in breast cancer in the stressed women. Similar mechanisms are causing other cancers to occur more frequently with chronic stress.

Chronic stress and cardiovascular disease

High stress jobs were found to cause a 2.2 to 2.4-fold increase of strokes and heart attacks due to cardiovascular disease when compared to low stress jobs. This was based on a British Medical Journal study in October 2002. As I discussed above under a brief description of chronic stress cardiovascular disease is often what develops as part of chronic stress. People who are under chronic stress feel that they do not have enough time to prepare good, healthy food at home. They tend to eat out more often. Even well educated people just swallow a quick hamburger and other processed foods.

Bad fats lead to heart attacks and stroke

This increases the bad fats like trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids in their system causing inflammation of the blood vessels as explained in this blog. The LDL cholesterol and triglycerides get elevated, sugar from sugary snacks oxidizes the LDL cholesterol and your coronary arteries and brain arteries get clogged up. This sets anybody on the downward pathway, and it is now only a matter of time when the chronically stressed person will develop a heart attack or stroke.

Chronic stress extremes: PTSD and burnout in soldiers

Dr. Thierry Hertoghe gave a lecture during the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas (Dec.10 to 14, 2014). The title was: “Burnout: A multiple hormone deficiency syndrome”. Burnout is the extreme of chronic stress. He said that burnout is a common condition where several hormones are affected, with the cortisol axis being the main one, but other hormone glands being stressed as well. As a result endocrine glands age prematurely. Symptoms are fatigue, exhaustion, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, depression and aggressiveness. The underlying hormone abnormalities are a lack of cortisol, thyroid deficiency, growth hormone deficiency, testosterone and estrogen deficiency and oxytocin deficiency. Burnout is common in teachers and there is a questionnaire that has been developed for teachers (teacher’s burnout scale) to monitor them whether they are heading this way.

Burnout or PTSD

Soldiers who return from combative situations often suffer from burnout or from PTSD. The teacher’s burnout scale already mentioned can monitor their burnout severity. In suspected cases laboratory tests that measure hormone levels give concrete answers about hormone deficiencies. Treatment protocols were discussed in detail. Multiple bioidentical hormone replacements are necessary, possibly for prolonged periods, if not life long. In addition supportive counseling sessions from a counselor or psychiatrist will help to tone down increased brain activity and help regain the internal balance. Why is this important? It is important, because hormones are necessary on a cellular level and regulate the energy metabolism of every cell in the body. Also, by recognizing what is going on and helping the affected individuals, a lot of pain and suffering can be prevented.

Accelerated aging from telomere shortening

Chronic stress has been shown to cause telomere shortening. So does a lack of sleep (insomnia), smoking and alcohol overconsumption, all conditions that can be associated with chronic stress. What can we do about this? Learn what shortens telomeres and ultimately your life. Cut out what you can and take supplements that lengthen your telomeres.

Positive thinking combats stress

Negative thoughts are draining you of energy. You want to stay optimistic within what’s reasonable. Be thankful for all the good things in your life. Minimize what’s negative, but think about positive solutions to get rid of energy draining parts in your days. Do this persistently until it becomes part of your life and you will have extra energy that you didn’t waste in negative thinking or needless, anxious anxiety. Worrying does not get us anywhere, but it depletes our energy.

Relaxation methods counter stress

Self-hypnosis is a simple way to allow your whole body to relax. However, the various forms of yoga will do the same thing for you. Meditation is another way of finding peace and tranquility. Prayer is know to help people in sickness and in health. All of these methods will re-energize you. They calm your brain, help you to cope with stress and rebalance your hormones at the same time.

Building social ties and mutually supportive relationships will also build you up. It makes you feel that you belong, you have your place in society, you help others, and they support you.

Constant overdrive has physical consequences

We need some stress to get us going, but we do not need “distress”. Dr. Hans Selye, the father of the general adaptation syndrome due to stress, gave a lecture about this topic in Hamilton, Ont. in 1977, which I attended. I vividly remember how he projected a picture of his skeleton showing bilateral hip replacements. He said that chronic stress could lead to arthritis. In his case, he said, he had developed end stage arthritis in his hips requiring total hip replacements on both sides. To illustrate further that stress leads to physical consequences, he explained that one person may develop a heart attack, another a stroke, a third could get arthritis. Constant overdrive has physical consequences.

What Stress Does

What Stress Does

Conclusion

Stress can be deadly, particularly if it lingers on and becomes chronic. But we can reorganize our lives to minimize stress. Some people may decide to seek a less stressful occupation. Others may elect to stay at that job, but develop hobbies, learn how to relax and take relaxation classes to combat job stress. The key is to start thinking about what stress you may be under and then develop a plan to counter it so you can allow yourself to rebalance your life.