Apr
11
2020

Our Immune System Needs Vitamin D3

When we age, our resistance to infections weakens, but this may be because our immune system needs more vitamin D3. I have reviewed the super powers of vitamin D3 before in 2014. In the past it was thought that the human body would need only 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day to cure rickets. And this was the daily recommendation for vitamin D3 for several decades. Gradually it became known that for cancer prevention, infection prevention, cardiovascular illness prevention and for diabetes prevention much higher doses of vitamin D3 were needed. As this link points out, almost 50% of the world population is deficient in vitamin D. This is due to a lack of exposure to sunlight and due to inadequate supplementation with vitamin D3.

25-hydroxy vitamin D level

For several years now the 25-hydroxy vitamin D level in serum is accepted as the best tool to assess the vitamin D status of a person.  In the following you find data from this link.

Various 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels

Vitamin D deficiency (leading to rickets in infants or osteomalacia in adults): less than 12 ng/mL (less than 30 nmol/L)

 Inadequate vitamin D levels in healthy individuals (inadequate for bone or general health): 12 ng/mL to less than 20 ng/mL (30 to less than 50 nmol/L)

 Considered adequate for bone and overall health: 20 or more ng/mL (50 or more nmol/L)

 “Emerging evidence links potential adverse effects to such high levels”: >50 ng/mL(particularly >60 ng/mL); or >125 (particularly >150 nmol/L)

Vitamin D requirement in diseases other than rickets

We see from this that in terms of rickets there is a clear dose-response curve, where low vitamin D serum levels give a child rickets and higher levels prevent rickets. This is historically how vitamin D was detected as a vitamin. In the meantime, researchers have found vitamin receptors on many cells, so that endocrinologists consider vitamin D3 a hormone and signalling molecule.

The above link said that a vitamin D level of 20 to 50 ng/mL is normal. This link says that 20 and 40 ng/mL would be normal. But it adds that others recommend a level between 30 and 50 ng/mL.

Mortality of ICU patients is higher when vitamin D is low

A study from 2015 examined the mortality of 135 ICU patients. The researchers correlated Vitamin D blood levels with mortality rates of the patients. When vitamin D levels were below 12 ng/mL, there was a mortality rate of 32.2%. Patients with higher levels of vitamin D had a mortality rate of 13.2%. The authors concluded that low vitamin D blood levels were an independent risk factor for mortality. Patients less than 12 ng/ml had a 2.4-fold higher risk of dying than patients with normal vitamin D levels.

Stroke patients with low vitamin D worse off

Studies have shown that patients with the lowest level of vitamin D have the poorest functional outcomes following a stroke. When the vitamin D level was below 30 ng/mL the area of dead brain tissue was about two times larger than in those who had adequate vitamin D levels. Moreover, for every 10 ng/mL decrease in vitamin D levels the odds of a healthy recovery 3 months after the stroke fell by about half. This was independent of age and the initial stroke severity.

Seasonal vitamin D3 deficiency from January through April contributes to influenza

In a publication of 2006 Dr. John Cannell and co-workers have reviewed why influenza has seasonal outbreaks. They found that the innate immune system was very dependent on vitamin D3. Those who did not get enough sunlight in the northern hemisphere during January, February, March and April have an average 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of only 15 to 17 ng/mL. In contrast, from July to September the same volunteers had vitamin D levels of 24 to 29 ng/mL. The authors stressed that this was the reason why in the late winter/early spring flu seasons come and go every year while in summer they disappear.

Vitamin D requirements for immune system is 2000 IU or more per day

Vitamin D is essential for the functioning of the innate and adaptive immune system. They also had a reason why children are not as affected by influenza viruses as adults are: “The innate immunity of the aged declined over the last 20 years due to medical and governmental warnings to avoid the sun. While the young usually ignore such advice, the elderly often follow it”. Had the older patients taken higher doses of vitamin D3 every day their immunity would have been as strong as the children’s immunity. The publication cites another publication that found that 2000 IU per day or more will strengthen the immune system. Note that this is a higher dose than for rickets that responds to only 400 IU of vitamin D3.

Patients with many diseases lack vitamin D, but improve with vitamin D3

Many diseases showed an association with an underlying lack of vitamin D. When doctors examine patients’ blood who have arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, influenza and others, their 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is usually below 15 ng/mL. This means that these patients have a very weak immune system. Vitamin D3 can restore their immune system and also restore more than 100 polypeptides that contribute to the healing process.

Here is evidence from US researchers that states that higher doses of vitamin D3 will mitigate the course of influenza and of Covid-19 coronavirus. The researchers outlined vitamin D has 3 effects:

  1. Maintaining tight epithelial junctions making it more difficult for the Covid-19 coronavirus to penetrate.
  2. “Killing enveloped viruses through induction of cathelicidin and defensins.” These powerful antiviral polypeptides can kill viruses that have invaded the blood stream within 1 to 2 days.
  3. “…And reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines by the innate immune system, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm leading to pneumonia.” It is people who get the viral pneumonia that are at a high risk of being killed. By bringing the blood level up to the higher range of normal, between 50 and 80 ng/mL, patients that have encountered Covid-19 coronavirus are more likely to survive.

Higher doses of vitamin D3 for various diseases

Dr. Norman Shealy has summarized here what Dr. Joe Prendergast, an endocrinologist and diabetologist did for various patients. This link also contains many references regarding the use of high doses of vitamin D3.

During 30 years of clinical practice Dr. Prendergast treated some conditions where the vitamin D level was extremely low and where patients had a profound weakness of the immune system.

He treated these patients with 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for various times. The diseases that responded to vitamin D3 therapy follow.

Conditions responding to vitamin D3 therapy

  • Reversal of advanced coronary disease
  • Reversal of advanced lung disease, avoiding a lung transplant!
  • Cure of multiple sclerosis
  • Cure of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Regression of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Improvement in allergies
  • Control of many cancers including prostate, breast, colon, brain tumors, leukemia, myeloma, etc.
  • Reversal of osteoporosis
  • Prevention of influenza
  • Cure of depression and many other mental disorders
  • Hashimoto’s hyperthyroidism

No toxicity with higher doses of vitamin D3

LinkedIn summarizes Dr. Prendergast’s career as follows:

“J. Joseph Prendergast has been a practicing physician for over 30 years. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine as well as Endocrinology and Metabolism. A graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan he completed a fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Henry Ford Hospital Detroit, MI and his residency at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Prendergast has published over 40 medical articles in well-known publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine and Diabetes Care.”

Do not take calcium supplements when on higher doses of vitamin D3

Dr. Prendergast had no complications in patients with these high doses of vitamin D3, but he stressed that the patient is instructed not to take calcium supplements to prevent high calcium levels. He checks vitamin D blood levels and aims at levels of 80 to 150 ng/mL.

The dosage suggested on this audiotape is 50,000 IU per day for one week, then a maintenance dose of 50,000 IU once per week (=7143 IU per day). But it is also important to change your nutrition to a well-balanced diet. He stated that there is no toxicity with this treatment schedule as long as you do not take additional calcium supplements. On the other hand, dairy products are OK to take.

Our Immune System Needs Vitamin D3

Our Immune System Needs Vitamin D3

Conclusion

Many patients with diseases like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, influenza, multiple sclerosis, allergies and other disease listed above have very low vitamin D blood levels. Vitamin D is necessary to produce more than 100 polypeptides. The body requires these for normal cell function. Rickets was first cured by supplements of only 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day. In the meantime, it is recognized that a vitamin D level of less than 15 ng/mL constitutes a vitamin D deficiency. To cure other diseases requires much higher vitamin D levels in the blood, in the order of 50 to 80 ng/mL.

Dr. Prendergast uses higher vitamin D levels with better results

Dr. Prendergast states that patients with pre-existing diseases have to take much higher levels of vitamin D3. This rebalances their metabolism and cell function. In time this will gradually cure their disease. He suggests 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for 7 days. This is then followed by 50,000 IU per week (7143 IU per day) for maintenance. He said that this will lead to a vitamin D level of between 80 and 150 ng/mL. In 30 years of practice he has not seen a single case of vitamin D3 toxicity, provided the patient refrains from taking calcium supplements. This is the exact opposite of what the Mayo Clinic or Harvard University websites say. It also shows that there are always some pioneering forces in the generally ultra-conservative medical society.

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Apr
04
2020

Side Effects of the Birth Control Pill

Dr. Jolene Brighten gave a lecture about side effects of the birth control pill. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. Her exact title was “Your Body on Birth Control- What Prescribers Should Know About the Effects of Birth Control on the Female Body”.

Most commonly the oral contraceptive pill is prescribed to prevent pregnancy. But the long-acting reversible contraceptives like the IUD and progestin implants are also popular. Depot Provera, the ring and the patch are the least popular ones.

Why women use the birth control pill

Women age 15 to 49 are often on some form of birth control method. 58% of women who use the birth control pill use it for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy. They use it to control symptoms of various conditions.

  • 31% use it for menstrual cramps
  • 28% want to regulate their periods
  • 14% hope to improve their acne
  • 4% use the pill for menstrual pains associated with endometriosis
  • 11% for other reasons

What the birth control pill does

The birth control pill exerts a negative influence on the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. This is called “functional hypothalamic amenorrhea”. The birth control pill is not suitable to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. Symptoms of bleeding may improve for 3 months, but after that the original symptoms return. Thyroid disease that may be present needs separate investigations.

The hormones that are part of the birth control pill are synthetic hormones. They do not quite fit the body’s hormone receptors. For instance, the progestins, artificial analogues of progesterone behave like estrogens, not progesterone. This causes clotting problems cancers of the uterus, breasts and cervix. It can also cause heart attacks and strokes.

List of side effects of the birth control pill 

From depression to liver health

The list of side effects of the birth control pill (BCP) is long. The BCP can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. The deeper the depression is, the higher is the risk for suicide. There is increased risk of hair loss. The BCP depletes nutrients in the body that the thyroid gland needs to produce thyroid hormones. This can result in hypothyroidism.

It also increases thyroid binding globulin, a protein in the blood that binds thyroid hormones. As a result, there are fewer thyroid hormones available to the body cells. Breasts may become tender and enlarged after the start of the BCP. In some women with fibrocystic disease of the breasts the BCP may improve her cyclical breast changes. The BCP changes the liver both structurally and genetically. As a result, there is a higher risk of developing benign liver tumors and liver cancer.

From gallstones to blood clots

Women with a history of gallstones may experience faster gallstone formation on the BCP. The pill also can elevate your blood pressure. You should have blood pressure checks from time to time to prevent a stroke. Weight gain is common on the BCP. However, some women experience weight loss. Usually the BCP is 99% effective for the prevention of pregnancy. Pain from heavy periods or menstrual cramps are often relieved by the BCP. There is an increased risk to develop diabetes, because insulin resistance is gets worse in patients on the BCP. In postmenopausal women on HRT there is an even higher risk of developing diabetes. Blot clots are a common side effect of the BCP. Being a smoker, having a heart or liver condition, a history of genetic risk of blood clots, having migraines with an aura or being overweight are all additional risk factors for developing blood clots.

From effects on the brain to cancer risks

The BCP can change brain function and structure. This may lead to a different mate selection and production of neurotoxins. Some women get relief from hormonal headaches; but others experience exacerbations of migraines and headaches. In some women acne improves on the BCP; in others acne gets worse. When it comes to stress, some women experience an altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland response from the BCP. The BCP reduces some cancer risks, like the risk of ovarian, uterine and colorectal cancer. But the risk for breast cancer, brain cancer and liver cancer are higher. The BCP increases gut permeability, leads to leaky gut syndrome and the disruption of the microbiome. There is often overgrowth of yeast in the gut. In addition, people with a genetic predisposition for autoimmune disease of the gut can develop immune diseases. Multiple studies have shown malabsorption of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when on the BCP.

From vaginal yeast infections to osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases

Many women develop vaginal yeast infections. Women on the BCP often complain about low or a lack of libido. There can be vaginal dryness and pain with sex.

Teenage women on the BCP often develop decreased bone density. Synthetic hormones lack the specificity to the natural hormone receptors, which leads to decreased bone density. On the other hand, bioidentical estrogen and bioidentical progesterone will indeed build up bone mass. In the past it was thought that hormones would be good for the bones and this is still true with the use of bioidentical hormones.

A number of autoimmune diseases have been identified to be directly related to the use of the BCP. These are Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, interstitial cystitis and ulcerative colitis.

Synthetic hormones will always have side effects

The body is a complex organism with various hormone receptors built into its cells. In order to be able to cash in on patented modified hormones Big Pharma introduced progestins to replace natural progesterone and various synthetic estrogen products to replace natural estradiol. However, the Women’s Health Initiative has shown  in 2002  that these artificial hormones produced heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, colorectal and endometrial cancer and hip fractures. There was an increase of mortality of 15% over 5.2 years compared to controls who did not take artificial hormones within the same timeframe.

Bioidentical hormones have a perfect fit to the natural hormone receptors

In contrast, when bioidentical hormones are given in menopause, there is a 10 to 15 year extension of life expectancy and researchers did not see any of the above mentioned side effects that were noted with synthetic hormones. Many people in Europe have elected to stick to bioidentical hormones for decades; they did not use the synthetic hormones. As a result, there are good data going back to the 1960’s about the safety of bioidentical hormones. In this study several thousand postmenopausal women were followed for 9 years or more and showed no increase in the rate of heart attacks or any cancer. Their postmenopausal symptoms were optimally controlled. I conclude from this that bioidentical hormone replacement in menopause will protect the women from missing hormones safely. There are no side effects and for this reason the bioidentical hormone replacement should become the standard of care.

Side Effects of the Birth Control Pill

Side Effects of the Birth Control Pill

Conclusion

Synthetic hormones have a long list of devastating side effects. Yet, Big Pharma managed to influence general practitioners and gynecologist to prescribe them to postmenopausal women. The Women’s Health Initiative has changed everything. The promise was that synthetic hormones would show heart-protective effects, cancer protective effects and healing effects for osteoporosis. These have been empty promises! None of this occurred with synthetic hormones- to the contrary! Many physicians are now prescribing bioidentical hormone replacement for women in menopause.

No good alternative for teenage girls

However, for teenage girls there is no good alternative for the traditional birth control pill, even though the catalogue of side effects is of serious concern. One compromise is to limit prescribing the birth control pill for up to 5 years only and then switch to several years of a copper T or other intrauterine device (IUD). Suicide in teenage girls on the BCP is of real concern. Despite the list of side effects many doctors continue to prescribe synthetic hormones for decades to the same patients, who trust that it will benefit them. In time patients will know about the side effects, and unfortunately many will experience them. As a result, it is only a matter of time, till this will be exposed as malpractice!

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Feb
29
2020

Celiac Disease in Various Disguises

Dr. Tom O’Bryan gave a lecture in Las Vegas on Dec. 13, 2019 about celiac disease in various disguises. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. The title of his talk: “An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Protocols: Halting Our Brains Slow Deterioration”.

Case # 1: 44-year old male with an assumed diagnosis of ALS

In the first place a 44-year old male had a history of a right leg weakness that developed over the last 6 months. He had intermittent spasms in his right quadriceps muscle. In addition, over the last few months he noticed a weakness develop in his right arm with difficulties writing. Significantly, his family history revealed that a maternal aunt had celiac disease. Moreover, a sister had Crohn’s disease and his maternal grandmother had multiple sclerosis. Electromyographic studies showed widespread acute denervation. An MRI scan of the spine showed hyperintensity in the corticospinal tracts. A diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) followed as a result based on the MRI scan findings.

Further tests

At the same time blood tests revealed that his anti-endomysial antibodies were elevated.  Duodenal biopsy demonstrated villous atrophy, crypt-hyperplasia and increased intraepithelial lymphocytes consistent with gluten-sensitive enteropathy (celiac disease). An MRI scan of the brain also showed some hyperintense lesion in the left-brain hemisphere.

Gluten free diet instituted

It was clear with these test results that the initial diagnosis was a misdiagnosis. The real diagnosis was celiac disease. 7 months after the onset of his symptoms he started on a gluten free diet. He received no medications. Notably, his right arm function returned to normal after 9 month of the gluten free diet. Although there was some improvement in his right leg function, he still had some muscle wasting and spasticity in his right leg. However, he could now walk without any aid. His hand-writing was back to normal, and he could button his shirts again. Repeat MRI scans followed 2 months and 9 months after the start of the gluten free diet. At two months after initiation of the gluten free diet the brain lesion in the left brain was somewhat larger than before, but at 9 months it was half the original size.

Case #2: Autism in children, youth depression and Alzheimer’s patients

The autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has significantly increased from 1 in 166 in 2004 to 1 in 40 in 2018. In addition, Dr. O’Bryan also mentioned that in 2017 statistics showed that 13.3% among youth aged 12 to 17 in the US suffered major depressive episodes. 1 in every 12 youth suffer from severe behavioral and emotional problems. According to the CDC since 1994 the number of children on psycho-stimulants increased 5-fold. In the same time children under 18 with bipolar disorder have increased 40-fold. There has been a 6-fold increase of prescriptions for antipsychotic medications for children in the same time frame.

Other effects on adolescents

However, I like to point out that there are other powerful factors that can explain increased depression and emotional problems in adolescence. The Canadian Medical Association published an article about social media and smart phones and the effects they have on adolescence.

On the other end of the life cycle 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Between 2000 and 2015 death from Alzheimer’s disease has increased by 213%.

Breakdown of the blood brain barrier

According to Dr. O’Bryan autism in children, behavioral and emotional problems in teenagers and dementia from Alzheimer’s disease are all related to the same process, namely a breakdown of the gut barrier, often called leaky gut syndrome. It is important to realize that this leads to a secondary breakdown of the blood brain barrier. The end result is a compromise of the brain, where antibodies attack the brain protein. In young children this causes lower adaptive and cognitive function and behaviors typical for autism. Teenagers are more likely to present with depression or schizophrenia. In older people the breakdown of the blood brain barrier can result in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

25 to 30% of protein in wheat are non-gluten. Antibodies can be directed against gluten, but also against non-gluten protein.

IgG antibodies against gluten cross placenta

In the later stages of pregnancy IgG antibodies cross the placenta easily. They provide passive immunity from various viral infections. Unfortunately, antibodies against gluten also cross through the placenta, which can lead to a breakdown of the fetal gut lining, in the sense of leaky gut syndrome. In this study 211 children were found to have a risk of 1.7-fold to develop psychosis later in life. The mothers were positive for anti-gliadin IgG antibodies in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. Anti-casein antibodies did not have this psychosis effect (risk only 0.8-fold). The investigators felt that an allergy to wheat in the mother set up general inflammation. Psychosis in the offspring only develops when inflammatory mediators reached the brain of the fetus. It was the brain inflammation, which caused the subsequent psychosis later in the child.

Blood brain barrier and healthy gut barrier

Another key point is that the barrier both in the gut and in the blood brain barrier consists of a single epithelial layer. The cells are held together by zonulin and occludin proteins. Autistic children were exposed already in the uterus to mother’s wheat induced anti-gliadin antibodies. This led to a break-down of the children’s blood brain barrier and the symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder. These children have a lot of brain inflammation and in addition often have impaired gut barrier integrity. It must be remembered that they require a comprehensive program to improve the gut flora, build up the gut barrier integrity and re-establish the blood brain barrier.

Effects of phthalates on young children

A 2014 study measured urinary metabolites of phthalates and related this to the children when they were 7 years old.

The investigators did several cognitive tests and measured the IQ (Wechsler Intelligence Scale). Children of mothers with the highest quartile of phthalates had an IQ, which was on average 7.0 points lower than the control group of the lowest quartile of phthalates. Dr. O’Bryan showed a slide taken from this study.

With this in mind, it points out that a pregnant woman has an intact blood brain barrier, which prevents antibodies from entering. However, the immature brain of the fetus has not developed an efficient blood brain barrier yet. This allows maternal gliadin antibodies from wheat intolerance to enter the fetal brain and cause autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

PCB’s disrupt the blood brain barrier

In mouse experiments the effects of PCB’s were investigated. By the same token, researchers found that the blood brain barrier was broken down by PCB’s that are known to have carcinogenic and neurotoxic properties on the brain. The researchers injected melanoma cells into the animals and found that the PCB pretreated mice sustained brain metastases. However, the control animals that did not have PCB pre-treatment did not develop brain metastases. They concluded from this that PCB’s are breaking down the blood brain barrier.

Maternal brain antibodies causing autism in children

This publication examined antibodies to two different brain proteins. The researchers found that 86% of the children from mothers with two different fetal brain antibodies were diagnosed with autistic regression. According to this publication there are at least 50 different epitopes of gluten peptides that exert cytotoxic, gut permeating and immunomodulatory activities.

DNA microarray technology can now detect many subtypes of food disorders and gluten sensitivities. The tests for celiac disease have a sensitivity of 97% for IgG and 99% for IgA. With regard to specificity the test is now 98% accurate for IgG and 100% for IgA.

Case #3: 34-year old female vegan patient with depression and mild cognitive decline

A 34-year old woman has followed a Vegan lifestyle for 10 years. She has been working long hours and had a lot of stress. In addition, her thyroid was borderline low with high TPO antibodies. A blood test for vitamin D showed vitamin D deficiency. For the past year her energy level was low and she had developed chronic depression. Her physician did a genetic test that found she carried the gene that converts GABA into glutamate. She thinks that she has small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). A review of her dietary habits revealed that she ate more cooked foods and less raw food. Her memory is slightly off, her speech not as fluid and she has some cognitive decline.

Her blood tests showed anti-immunity to RAGE peptides. To put it another way, RAGE stands for “receptor for advanced glycation end products”. When you eat too much overcooked foods you ingest advanced glycation end products. This can have adverse effects on your body, particularly the brain.

More tests regarding this woman

Another specific test revealed a blood brain barrier disruption with the presence of anti-brain antibodies. A stool sample was obtained. It showed low Akkermansia, low Faecali bacterium, low Bifido longum and low Bifido adolescentis bacteria. A chemical analysis revealed low butyrate, propionate and acetate. The treating physician concluded that she had a gut dysbiosis and a dysfunctional gut barrier. This has also affected her blood brain barrier. The constellation of symptoms and blood tests explain her clinical condition. She has developed autoantibodies that affect her thyroid gland and her brain because of the antibodies against her RAGE peptides. People can develop Alzheimer’s disease given enough time with exposure to these antibodies. The leaky gut has led to a break-down of her blood brain barrier and exposed her brain to autoimmune antibodies directed against brain cells.

Treatment of gut dysbiosis

This patient started a gluten free diet (GFD). But one of the problems of the GFD is that wheat is removed that normally provides 69% inulin and 71% oligofructose, both important prebiotics that are necessary for probiotics to work with. Inulin is contained in beets, leeks, asparagus, onions, garlic and bananas. Oligofructose is contained in chicory root, bananas, onion, and garlic.

When people consume a typical Western diet, they get between 1 and 4 grams of inulin daily. But others who eat balanced diets get up to 25 to 100 grams of inulin per day. Dr. O’Bryan explained that going on a GFD leads to an altered microbiome.

Experiment with volunteers to measure the effects of a gluten free diet

He discussed an experiment on 10 healthy volunteers who were fed a GFD for 1 month.

The researchers ordere stool samples in the beginning and at the end of the experiment. There was less of the good bacteria and more of the the bad bacteria. This led to a less protective and more inflammatory environment. The remedy for that is to eat 1 root vegetable and 2 other prebiotics per day. The patient on a GFD must supplement with prebiotic-rich foods to prevent this from happening.

Non-digestible oligosaccharide supplement

Inulin and oligosaccharides support the intestinal microbiota.  Dr. O’Brien suggested to add a supplement, called Precision Prebiotic™, non-digestible oligosaccharides that can increase microbial diversity. This supplement supports the growth of the healthy bacteria. These are keystone bacteria like Akkermansia muciniphila, Faecal bacterium prausnitzii, and Bifidobacteria.

Other supportive measures for the gut

  • 1 tablespoon of fermented vegetables like sauerkraut once per day
  • The ingestion of fermented foods increases the beneficial gut bacteria by a factor of 10,000-fold!
  • A 100% spore-based probiotic supplement increases diversity of the gut flora and helps to maintain the gut barrier
  • Sodium butyrate, which comes from fermented food is an important modulator of the central nervous system
  • In addition, sodium butyrate also inhibits pathological gut bacteria and maintains the gastrointestinal balance
  • In neurodegenerative disorders sodium butyrate provides anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects
  • Sodium butyrate restores the blood brain barrier
  • Following heart attacks or strokes sodium butyrate promotes tissue repair and recovery through cell survival
Celiac Disease in Various Disguises

Celiac Disease in Various Disguises

Conclusion

Dr. Tom O’Bryan delivered a lecture at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas on Dec.13, 2019. Wheat allergies have increased in the last decades. Researchers have found that in many people there is a deterioration of the gut flora and a breakdown of the gut barrier. This leads to antibody formation against gluten or gliadin (wheat proteins). This exposes the body to many proteins from the gut. The body reacts by producing antibodies to them. These are also affecting cells in the body as they cross react with body proteins. The inflammation from the autoantibodies cause the blood brain barrier to break down. Now the immune system can produce antibodies against brain tissue. In the past  with an intact blood brain barrier this was not possible.

Autoantibodies in various life epochs

At a young age autism can develop because of antibodies against gliadin from wheat. In our youth schizophrenia and depression can occur from gut dysbiosis and a subsequent break down of our blood brain barrier. In old age Alzheimer’s disease develops in 1 out of 3 people due to gut dysbiosis and a breakdown of the blood brain barrier with anti-brain antibodies. Dr. O’Bryan explained how a person can turn this negative spiral around and start a new life without these problems. You can avoid a lot of these diseases by eliminating wheat and processed food from your diet.

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Jan
25
2020

Nitric Oxide (NO) Can Provide You With Energy

Dr. Nathan S. Bryan explained that nitric oxide (NO) can provide you with energy. His presentation was given at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15, 2019 that I attended. Dr. Bryan worked at the Department of Human Genetics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In his 20 years of research he asked the following questions:

  • How does the human body produce NO?
  • There are people who cannot make NO; what went wrong in these people?
  • What are the clinical consequences when NO is missing?
  • How do you fix or restore your inborn NO production?

Mental disease is also closely related to heart disease and to strokes. Over 44 million patients in the US have a mental illness. Mental disease and heart disease are linked by the fact that both have higher rates of heart attacks and strokes. Marc de Hert et al. published a paper entitled: “The intriguing relationship between coronary heart disease and mental disorders”.

Mental health and heart disease related

Mental health and heart disease are related. Both show increased heart attack rates  and strokes. But there is another important finding: sexual dysfunction is common among psychiatric patients. The sexual dysfunction among schizophrenic patients was related to both the psychobiology and the pharmacotherapy. Emotional and sex-related problems were  more common in a patients group who experienced poor physical and emotional health.

Another finding that shows the importance of normal circulation is peripheral artery disease (PAD). A group of people with depression had an increase in PAD.

SPECT scans of brains as a tool to investigate circulation

SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography. It is a tool that Dr. Amen has used for years to study the brain.  He found, for instance that with chronic marijuana use the brain circulation develops deficiencies where certain parts of the brain are not properly perfused. This is associated with certain brain malfunctions. When the patient is rehabilitated the blood circulation to the brain gradually recovers. Dr. Bryan noted that there is a decrease in blood flow with every chronic disease. If we can restore blood flow to the region in the brain where where there is a blood flow disturbance, we can cure many neurological diseases.

Restoration of circulation with nitric oxide (NO)

Dr. Bryan showed vignettes of improved body circulation with systemic nitric oxide therapy. One example was that nitric oxide supports a healthy blood pressure. At the same time nitric oxide also improves endothelial function. A 13% increase in blood vessel diameter increases blood flow by 34%!

Thermographic images show a 49-year-old smoker with Raynaud disease in the hands. Within 10 minutes after nitric oxide application the poorly circulated fingers showed a sudden opening up and normal perfusion to the fingers.

Nitric oxide can repair skin damage

Before and after pictures showed the effect of anti-aging skin care serum with nitric oxide. The anti-aging skin care serum improved skin texture, increased elasticity, evened skin tone, restored moisture, reduced fine lines and wrinkles and created tighter and smoother skin. A chronic skin ulcer on a woman’s right chin disappeared in a matter of a few weeks and healed with hardly any scar formation.

Here are some final remarks on nitric oxide replacement

Dr. Bryan concluded with these remarks: Nitric oxide governs vascular structure and function. NO production undergoes an age-related decline. This leads to cardiovascular risks and neurological disorders. Restoring NO production improves tissue perfusion and vascular function. Strategies of nitric oxide production will positively affect general health and the aging process. Any anti-aging strategy should include nitric oxide as a tool.

Nitric Oxide (NO) Can Provide You With Energy

Nitric Oxide (NO) Can Provide You With Energy

Conclusion

Dr. Bryan gave a good overview of how nitric oxide (NO) can help people to improve their complexion, their perfusion, and how cardiac and neurological disorder can be prevented. Before and after pictures showed the effect of anti-aging skin care serum with nitric oxide. The anti-aging skin care serum improved skin texture, increased elasticity, evened skin tone, restored moisture, reduced fine lines and wrinkles and created tighter and smoother skin. A chronic skin ulcer on a woman’s right chin disappeared in a matter of a few weeks and healed with hardly any scar formation.

But these are only examples about skin appearance. Perhaps the more important aspect of nitric oxide is the repair of the lining of the arteries and the improvement of circulation to various organs. Nitric oxide can even prevent neurological disease with regular consumption.

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Mar
09
2019

Live The Life That We Evolved For

A review article at CNN by a psychiatrist recommends that we live the life that we evolved for. Dr. Arash Javanbakht, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI explains that man lived on this planet only since 200,000 years. But it takes about 1 million years for evolutionary changes to take place. As a result of this we tend to still behave in our lives the way we may have reacted 10,000 years ago. It is useful to think back of us being hunters and gatherers.

Anxiety, an ancient emotion

Anxiety, for instance, is an emotion that goes far back to 10,000 years ago when humans had to be part of the tribe. If an opposite tribe was fighting them chances were high that they could get killed. Even if your own tribe did no longer like you, there was a strong possibility that you were driven out or killed. This left us with an inheritance going back many millennia of anxiety. In modern life though it is the boss who does not like something you did. It could be a deadline for a school or college project that makes us anxious or some political news. The reasons have changed, but anxiety is still there!

Live the life that we evolved for: assess what we eat

Food was very scarce 10,000 years ago. When the tribe finally caught some prey, there was a feast where fatty food, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds were eaten. Refined sugars were not available. You did not know when the next time would come where you had ample food. Today we still behave this way: we eat what we can and eat some more. The only problem is that there is no longer the pattern of famine orfeast. Instead there is easy access to the fridge with all kinds of food. We also have access to fast food places. And we drink sodas, eat candies and other sweets. Eventually we end up fat and fatigued.

Live the life that we evolved for: which way do we move?

Our ancestors had to run and walk many miles a day to find food. They may have been attacked by wild animals and had to flee. They also needed to chase a prey for food. Constant movement was the order of the day. What are we doing today? We did not evolve to step into a car and drive to work. We also did not evolve to sit at a desk from 9AM to 5PM. In the evening we sit in front of the TV or lie on a couch eating munchies and drinking beer.

Our modern life

It is no wonder that we gain weight, that our heart and lungs do not get conditioned, and that our muscles are a pile of mush. We need to think back what our bodies were built to do. Perhaps a long walk would be healthier than sitting all the time. Some of us do not mind to visit a gym daily and build an exercise routine into the day. This mimics the activities of the hunter/gatherers and is a lot better for our bodies.

Live the life that we evolved for: sleep problems

Many people today have problems to fall asleep. The sun had 100% control of the diurnal rhythm in the past. Now we have artificial lightning, blue light from TV’s, computer screens and iPhones. We are constantly getting stimulated. In addition, the stories we read or see on TV get us excited, so that the stress hormone, cortisol is released and melatonin, the sleeping hormone gets suppressed. Taken all this together, it is not really a wonder we have problems sleeping. Relaxation methods can help us to tone down before we go to sleep. You may want to meditate, do self-hypnosis, practice some yoga or just lie still and relax, clearing your mind, and more importantly switch the TV off and put the computer on “sleep”. Sleep for you comes easier this way.

Live the life that we evolved for: our fears

10,000 years ago fear was a normal part of our lives. There were predators you had to fear. There were tribal wars where you had to fight for your survival. You had to fear starvation. The fight/flight response was a reality. Compare this to our lives now. We may fear an exam, a meeting at work or agonize what to wear for a party. We have no real existential fears unless you live in a war zone. Many people may feel that they do not have enough fear in their lives, so they get drawn to horror and mystery stories, computer games, haunted houses etc. But this is fodder for anxiety!

Live the life that we evolved for: how to feel better

When we adopt a pet, let’s say a dog, we understand that it needs food, exercise, love and sleep. But when it comes to the human animal in us, we find it hard to understand that we need that too. In fact, we need to live the life that we evolved for. We need some form of exercise all the time, because that is what we were meant to do 10,000 years ago and our bodies are still built for that. When you walk the dog, you may make new friends or even a date. If you go to the gym, you realize that your muscles work better and begin to make your body fitter. You will also feel better about yourself. You appreciate that your mood is lifting, and you feel the increased energy and strength.

Dr. Arash Javanbakht said about the bottom line:

“If we treated our body the way responsible dog owners treated their dog, we would live a much happier life.”

Live The Life That We Evolved For

Live The Life That We Evolved For

Conclusion

It takes people 1 million years for evolutionary changes. We do not change our behavior fast. Dr. Arash Javanbakht, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI compared our lives now with the lives of the hunters/gatherers in the past. People ate fatty food, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds when a prey was hunted. But then there was an episode of fasting. People then had to walk and run all day long to catch some food again or they had to run to escape from a predator. Nowadays we use cars for transportation, use the elevator to get upstairs and walk from the table at home to the TV set. If we do not move enough and we eat the wrong foods, we do not turn fit but we turn fat.

Our modern lives

We also use LED lights from TV’s, computers, iPhones and tablets that interfere with our diurnal hormone rhythm. It is not about going back to sending smoke signals, but it is all about setting limits and when to stop and disengage from social media and the phone. Not setting limits is part of why we have problems to sleep. Stress can also be a factor of insomnia. Dr. Javanbakht says that we need to relearn how our bodies were built. We need proper nutrition without high-energy carbs. In addition we need regular exercise that will help us to relax and feel more energy. Anxieties will lift and we will feel better about ourselves.

Oct
13
2018

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

The distribution of obesity in women and men is different, when they gain weight on a low fat/high carb diet. The distribution of fat follows a pear shape in women due to fat accumulated around the hips. In males excessive fat accumulates around the waist, which gives them an apple shape appearance.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) have done experiments using a mouse model. They wanted to see what changes take place when obesity develops. Djurdjica Coss was the lead researcher of the study from the UCR School of Medicine.

The reason why this study was thought to be necessary

Many men and women have relatively normal weights until their mid 50’s. But when women approach menopause, they tend to accumulate fat in the thigh areas (pear-shape obesity). When their weight continues to rise, they also accumulate weight in the abdominal area. It is general knowledge that the fat in the abdominal region is metabolically more active producing inflammatory kinins.

Men above the age of 50 or 60 are also accumulating fat, but typically in the abdominal area right away. The name for this is apple-shape obesity. Unfortunately this is the fat we just discussed, metabolically active with inflammatory kinins. It is known to be the cause for heart attacks and strokes as it accelerates hardening of the arteries in the whole body. Dr. Coss found in doing experiments on mice that estrogen plays a major role in the development of obesity as discussed below.

The mouse experiments to study the development of obesity

The research team of Dr. Coss compared a group of mice that had their ovaries taken out. The ovaries in females are the main source of estrogens. They fed them a high-fat diet comparing their weight gain to that of male controls on the same diet. Obesity leads to a change in metabolism, called metabolic syndrome. This condition has an association with the production of inflammatory substances originating from the abdominal fat accumulation. Both male and female mice underwent a series of blood tests. They were also physically inspected. The female mice had the pear-type accumulation of fat, the males an apple-type fat accumulation.

More details about what obesity did to the experimental mice

In males there was a reduction of sperm count in the obese group as well as low muscle strength. In addition they were low in energy, had a lack of libido and their testosterone levels were low. The sperm number and the testosterone level had fallen to 50% of what they were when their weight was normal. This is what happens in human obese males as well. The inflammatory substances, that the abdominal fat creates, broke down the blood/brain barrier, and this affected the brain.

Among the female mice there was no neuroinflammation in the brain. There was no change in their hormones, which was quite a remarkable finding. This was a surprise and points out that beside estrogens there are other mechanisms to protect females from the effects of obesity.

Brain inflammation from obesity

Dr. Cross explained that in male mice the fat accumulation was of the apple-type. Female mice had the pear type fat accumulation. The fatty tissue in females did not release inflammatory kinins. On the other hand, the abdominal fat in the males released inflammatory kinins. These attracted macrophages, which is a cell type of the immune system. Activated macrophages now became aggressive and broke down the blood/brain barrier. This resulted in neuroinflammation of the brain. The brain normally is an immune protected site because of the blood/brain barrier. When this breaks down because of the action of inflammatory kinins from abdominal fat, the brain starts to develop memory loss like in Alzheimer’s disease.

Women before and after menopause

In females who still produce enough estrogen, fat from the pear type obesity distribution does not produce inflammatory kinins. This explains the relative protection of premenstrual women from heart attacks and neuroinflammation. But menopausal women start accumulating fat around the abdomen as well. At that point they can also develop inflammatory kinins and neuroinflammation. This is why the heart attack and stroke rate increases in postmenopausal women with apple-shape obesity.

Other studies supporting the effects of obesity in men and women 

Inflammatory substances in obese people affecting their brain

This publication shows that in a group of 141 neurologically healthy obese individuals the anti-inflammatory defense in the brain was weakened. Subsequently, various brain conditions developed because of the inflammatory substances affecting the brain.

How obesity affects your body functions

Obesity affects the body in various ways. It is particularly the apple type obesity that causes inflammatory substances circulating in the blood. A multitude of conditions can develop from this.

  • The cholesterol shows an increase of the bad LDL cholesterol and a reduction of the good HDL cholesterol.
  • The blood pressure rises. Without treatment high blood pressure can cause strokes.
  • Type-2 diabetes often develops because the insulin production cannot keep up with the demand. A second factor is a loss of insulin receptor sensitivity. As a result the insulin receptors of the body cells become resistant to insulin.
  • The gallbladder often develops stones, which may require gallbladder surgery.
  • Some cancers are increasing in frequency: endometrial cancer, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver cancer.
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are more common, in part because of the neuro-inflammatory processes that I mentioned before.
  • Body pain and problems with physical functioning: obese people have more back pains, hip and knee pains from the extra weight. Slim people are less likely to have these problems. Obese people require more hip and knee replacement surgeries for end-stage arthritis than slim people.

Difference of metabolism in pear-shape versus apple-shape obesity

Back to the pear versus apple distribution of fatty tissue in obesity. diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes as the apple type obesity. The difference in metabolism between the two is explained in detail here.

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

Conclusion

You may have heard that women tend to accumulate fat more around their hips, possibly because of hormonal factors. This is a pear-type fat distribution. In men who turn obese the fat accumulation follows an apple pattern. This type has a more aggressive metabolism in the fat tissue with inflammatory kinins accessing the blood circulation. It also affects the blood/brain barrier. Normally this barrier does not allow proteins to enter the brain. But when a person is obese, inflammatory kinins and proteins can enter the brain freely causing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Many obese people also develop type-2 diabetes leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Low fat diet from the 1980’s

The low fat diet of the 1980’s has caused a lot of obesity around the world. The problem is that merchants who provide low fat products have replaced fat with refined sugar. The liver converts refined sugar into fatty acids and triglycerides. These end up as fatty tissue. Given enough time this is causing obesity. Those who are obese need to cut out refined sugar in its many disguises. In addition they also need to cut down their starchy food intake. In the gut starchy foods break down into sugar.

When you cut out sugar and starchy foods, a person will typically lose 50 pounds in 3 months, at which point they have lost the label of “obesity”. They will also feel more energetic. The best advise for you is to maintain your weight loss with a Mediterranean diet. Research studies have shown that it is beneficial and anti-inflammatory.

Aug
25
2018

The Downside Of Living To 100

A review article has examined longevity and reviewed the downside of living to 100. In their 80’s about 10% of the population live in nursing homes, but among centenarians 55% are residing in nursing homes. They are often very lonely, as their social circles have shrunk as they aged.

Common diseases of older people

Osteoarthritis makes it difficult for people to get around, it causes chronic pain and it can also be the reason for falls. In 1990 there were 213.4 cases of osteoarthritis per 100,000. 26 years later, in 2016 there were 232.1 cases of osteoarthritis per 100,000 people.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been falling, because less people smoke cigarettes now. Statistics show 1667 cases of COPD per 100,000 in 1990, but only 945 cases of COPD per 100,000 in 2016.

Diarrhea and common infections have dropped sharply from 8951 per 100,000 in 1990 to 3276 per 100,000 in 2016.

What other common diseases do older people get?

There are a number of common diseases that affect the elderly.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the hips and the knees are common, but it can affect every joint in the body. In the end stage knee replacements or hip replacements may be necessary. But before a total knee replacement or total hip replacement can even come into consideration, the person’s heart needs a thorough checkup to ensure that it is safe for the patient to undergo surgery under a general anesthetic.

Heart disease

Older people often have heart disease.

When coronary arteries are narrowed, heart attacks occur. Cardiologists can place stents, so that previously narrowed coronary arteries receive normal blood flow. Following such a procedure the patient may live for another 10 to 15 years.

There are also heart valve calcifications. The aortic valve is particularly endangered. A heart surgeon may be able to replace a diseased aortic valve by a porcine valve.

The nervous system of the heart transmits electrical signals from the sinus node to the muscle fibers, which can get diseased. Heart rhythm problems may necessitate the insertion of a pacemaker.

Finally, the heart may enlarge, but pump less blood than before. This condition is congestive heart failure. The 5-year survival for this condition is only 50.4%. Unfortunately there is very little the doctor can do for patients like this.

Cancer

The older we get, the more DNA mutations we accumulate. At one point cancer develops. If the diagnosis happens at an early stage there is a good chance that surgery can remove a cancerous growth, and the patient survives. But there are cancers that are notoriously difficult to recognize in the early stages. These are: cancer of the pancreas, kidney cancer, stomach cancer and certain types of leukemias.

Respiratory diseases

Those who smoked earlier in life may develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is a chronically disabling lung disorder. Often these individuals have to carry an oxygen tank with them wherever they go. The 5-year survival rate for people with COPD is 40 to 70%.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is brittle. Spontaneous bone fractures can occur at the wrists, the upper thigh bone (femoral fractures) or in the vertebral bones. Women in menopause are hormone deficient and this contributes to calcium depletion of the bones. Lately research has shown that vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 are necessary for a normal calcium metabolism. Briefly, 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 and 5000 IU of vitamin D3 every day are the necessary dosage that the body can absorb calcium from the gut, eliminate it from the blood vessels and deposit it into the bone. Calcium is present in milk products and milk. If a person does not consume enough milk products a supplement of 1000 mg of calcium daily does make sense.

Alzheimer’s

The older we get, the more likely it is an onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Between the ages of 90 to 94 there is a yearly increase of Alzheimer’s of 12.7% per year. The group from age 95 to 99 years has a yearly increase of Alzheimer’s of 21.2% per year. Persons aged 100 years and older have an increase of Alzheimer’s by 40.7% per year. What this means is that essentially there is a doubling of Alzheimer’s every 5.5 years. We do not have all of the answers why this is happening and why Alzheimer’s develops. But we do know that diabetics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. High blood sugar levels and high insulin levels seem to lead to the precipitation of the tau protein in the brain, which causes Alzheimer’s.

Diabetes

When diabetes is not well controlled, there is accelerated hardening of the arteries. This can cause heart attacks and strokes. Longstanding diabetes can affect the kidneys (diabetic nephropathy, kidney damage) and can lead to hardening of the leg arteries. Often the only treatment left is a below knee amputation. Blindness from uncontrolled diabetes is common and pain from diabetic neuropathy as well.

Diabetics have an average life expectancy of 77 to 81 years. However, if they pay attention to their blood sugars and manage their diabetes closely they can live past the age of 85.

Falls and balance problems

As people age, their balance organ is not functioning as well. Also, people with high blood pressure medication may have postural hypotensive episodes that can lead to falls.

There may be a lack of cognitive functioning and misjudging of steps, ledges and irregularities in the floor. When a person has brittle bones from osteoporosis and they fall, a hip fracture is very common. At a higher age surgery for a hip fracture is dangerous. It can have a mortality of 50%.

Obesity

A person with obesity has a life expectancy that is 10 years less than a person without obesity. The reason for this is that with obesity This is so, because the risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, arthritis and diabetes is increased.

Depression

Older people often get depressed. It even has its own name: involutional depression. People can get into a state of mind, where they think negatively. Depressed people feel that they have nothing to live for. They lost friends; they are shut in because they can’t drive a car any more. This type of depression needs treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist. The danger of leaving depression untreated is that the person may get suicidal. In older people depression is often precipitated by physical health problems.

Oral health

When teeth are not looked after, gingivitis and periodontitis can develop. Infected gums can shed bacteria into the blood and this can affect the heart valves. Endocarditis, the infection of heart valves, is a cardiological emergency. Prolonged antibiotic therapy is necessary to overcome this condition.

Poverty

Poverty has real consequences. The aging person may not have access to the optimal medical care facility because of a lack of funds. But even at a younger age there is evidence that people are healthier when they are wealthier.

Shingles

Older people often get shingles, even if they had chickenpox or shingles as a child. This is evidence that the immune system is getting weaker. Shingles in an older person should alarm the treating physician that there could be an underlying cancer. Due to that knowledge a cancer-screening tests should be part of the medical exam. In addition, a varicella vaccine should be offered to the patient to build up immunity.

The Downside Of Living To 100

The Downside Of Living To 100

Conclusion

Living to 100 is often glorified in the press. Maybe you have seen a 90-year old jogger completing a marathon, or you saw an 85-year old couple ballroom dancing. But what they don’t show you is what I summarized here, the less glamorous things about living to 100. You may get a heart attack or a stroke. Osteoarthritis may affect you how you walk. Congestive heart failure may make you get short of breath when you walk upstairs. Then there are various cancer types that are difficult to diagnose early.

If you have smoked in the past, you may suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which leaves you breathless.

Other illnesses

Osteoporosis can lead to spontaneous fractures. Because the bone has a lack of calcium, this is difficult to treat and takes a long time to heal.

Alzheimer’s is ever so much more common when you approach the year 100. There are other medical conditions you can get: obesity, diabetes and depression. When you get shingles for the second time, it may mean that your immune system is getting weak and a cancer-screening test should be done.

There are some downsides when you approach the age of 100.

Know your risks and be vigilant

You may keep your physician busy checking out various age-related illnesses, but more importantly, get regular check-ups and tests. Any condition is easier to treat with an earlier diagnosis! The message for anybody reading this is very simple. Prevention through healthy living is something you can actively pursue. Keep your body and your mind busy. Enjoy time with friends and family instead of living a solitary existence. See the glass that is half full instead of viewing it as half empty. Stick to a healthy diet. Knowing all the risks is not a scare but a call to being vigilant. Knowledge is powerful and will help you to enjoy your golden years feeling well and happy.

May
12
2018

Sex Stimulates Your Brain

Sex usually causes positive feelings, but how is it that sex stimulates your brain? Recently this publication reviewed exactly what is going on. The reason both sexes seem to seek out sex is the fact that it is sex that stimulates the brain a certain way, which is pleasing to both partners. Due to the stimulation the brain will release hormones that make us feel good. Following sex there is post-coital afterglow for a period of time, which I have addressed under this link before. Here I am reviewing what physical stimulation of the brain takes place during sex. Next I will touch on the hormonal changes that happen during and after sex.

Diagnostic tests that show that sex stimulates your brain

Researchers performed  2005 positron emission tomography (PET scan) studies  during sex at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. They studied males males while they were having sex. The question was what part of the brain would be receiving stimulation. Another question was, what part of the brain was resting during intercourse? They found that the right hemisphere and particularly one area, the right posterior insula received stimulation, when the penis was stimulated. This area allows the man to feel relaxed and it reduces pain perception. The secondary somatosensory cortex also showed stimulation on PET scans. The stimulation of the secondary somatosensory cortex is what carries him to the height of his arousal during intercourse. The hypothalamus, which also received stimulatioh with the initiation of sex, was very quiet during the active part of lovemaking. The thalamus and right amygdala were also quiet during that phase on PET scans.

More on feelings and losing oneself during the height of sex

The same group from the Netherlands did a 2003 study using PET scans to find out what happens during his ejaculation. Male subjects had sexual stimulation (penile stimulation) by their female partners. At the time of his ejaculation the PET scan showed increased brain activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the cerebellum. The frontal brain was remarkably quiet. Other authors point out that there are profound hormone releases during lovemaking. The release of neurotransmitters like noradrenaline, oxytocin and prolactin is taking place during orgasm. Other hormones like dopamine, opioids and serotonin join the hormonal symphony of lovemaking. This leads to detachedness at the height of the orgasm, to emotional closeness and pair bonding toward the end of lovemaking. The authors of the 2003 Netherlands study concluded:

“Our results correspond with reports of cerebellar activation during heroin rush, sexual arousal, listening to pleasurable music, and monetary reward.”

Female orgasm and brain studies showing that sex stimulates your brain

It is only fair that research also studied females, similarly to the male studies. Functional MRI scans were part of a 2017 study from Newark, NJ.

It showed a much broader stimulation of brains in females than in males. Female orgasm includes stimulation of the prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, the insula, the cingulate gyrus, and the cerebellum. These areas take part in the processing of emotions and of pain. There is also some metabolic processing and decision-making. With the male ejaculation study discussed above we had seen that there was no activity in the frontal brain of the male. At this stage of his sexual arousal there is no place for decision-making for the man. Women, however, are still able to think while having an orgasm. Other studies have shown that the rhythmic sexual stimulation during sex can get women into an altered state of consciousness that feels like a trance.

Hormonal activity during and after sex documenting that sex stimulates your brain

We learned already about the profound hormone releases during the height of his ejaculation and her orgasm (noradrenaline, oxytocin and prolactin). But other hormones were also part of it: dopamine, opioids and serotonin. There are two hormones that are particularly important: endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins are part of the natural endorphins that the brain makes. They help us to feel good and they minimize pain. Their production takes place in the hypothalamus, one of the main hormone producing glands of the brain. The hypothalamus also produces the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which releases ACTH in the pituitary gland. This and cortisol are the stress hormones that make us tense. With the release of endorphins during sex, the stress reaction becomes less. More sex means less stress.

Oxytocin, the cuddling hormone

Oxytocin from the posterior pituitary gland is the cuddling hormone. It is part of the symphony of hormones that show a release during sex. Oxytocin makes you feel close to your partner, but also very relaxed. It may be responsible for the afterglow that I mentioned  in the beginning of my review that can last for up to 2 days after sex.

When sex is painful

Sex can be a bad experience, particularly for women. Many women have experienced sexual abuse in the past, and when they grow up to mature women, the past bad memories often linger on. This is called postcoital dysphoria (PCD). A 2011 Australian/US study has studied this. 32.9% of the students of that study reported ever having experienced this. There were also cases of childhood sexual abuse that were more severe. The authors also found that sexual dysfunction was worse when co-existing anxiety or depression disorders were present.

Better sleep after sex

Prolactin, another brain hormone is released during sex as well. It is responsible for calming the frontal cortex down. This leads to better sleep, but in older men it also causes better cognitive functioning. Prolactin, released during sex is thought to improve memory and to improve cognitive impairment.

In women testosterone and oxytocin are released during sex. This can improve libido (testosterone) and makes you feel like cuddling.

Sex Stimulates Your Brain

Sex Stimulates Your Brain

Conclusion

Sex leads to a battery of hormones that the brain releases after ejaculation and/or orgasm. Both partners experience their own detachedness, which is due to a trance-like mental state where the partners experience each other intensely. The cuddling hormone oxytocin encourages bonding and contributes to a feeling of an intense closeness to each other. Endorphins release stress and amplify the emotional high. Brain studies on copulating couples have shown different stimulation patterns of parts of the brain in women and in men.

Differences in how men and women are wired

Men cannot think at the height of lovemaking because their frontal brain is completely blocked. Women, however, are able to continue to experience all emotions and are able to think at the same time. Having said that, women can easily enter into a trance from the repetitive movements of lovemaking. Whatever it is that we experience during and after sex, it is due to the relationship we have with each other, the past experience, the present experience and the hormone symphony that occurs during all of this. Enjoy what’s going on!

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May
05
2018

The Benefits Of Drinking Green Tea

Chances are you heard about the benefits of drinking green tea to reduce heart disease. But the polyphenols of green tea also prevent cancer, depression and cognitive decline.

Green tea lowers cardiovascular mortality

A study in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy consisted of 807 men and women aged 65 years and older. They had urine tests for metabolites of green tea in the beginning of the study. The study went on for 12 years. 274 participants died, which was 34% of the total study group. Tests measured the total urinary polyphenol (TUP) concentration in both groups, the survivors and the participants who died. Those participants whose TUP was in the highest tertile of the TUP values had the lowest all-cause mortality. And those participants whose TUP was in the lowest tertile had the highest all-cause mortality. 

High blood pressure and stroke

A Taiwanese study from 2004 examined the blood pressure of 1507 subjects. There were 711 men and 796 women with a recent diagnosis of  high blood pressure. The investigators looked at tea consumption (green tea and oolong tea) and blood pressure reduction. They found that those who drank 120 to 599 mL/day of green tea or oolong tea decreased their blood pressure by 46%. Those who drank more than 600 mL/day of green tea or oolong tea lowered their blood pressure by 65%.

Another meta-study involving 194,965 people and 4378 strokes found that there was a reduction of strokes with increasing tea consumption. Those who drank 3 or 4 cups of green tea or black tea per day were the experimental group. Researchers compared them  to the control group that drank less than one cup of tea per day. The experimental group had a 21% lower risk of getting a stroke than the control group.

Cancer prevention more with black tea than with green tea

A meta-analysis of 18 studies from China showed that green tea and black tea consumption was beneficial for prevention of cardiovascular disease and for cancer prevention. The highest consumption of green tea reduced cardiovascular mortality by 33%. The highest black tea consumption lowered mortality by 12%. Cancer mortality turned out to be different. Green tea did not produce a reduction in mortality, but black tea lowered it by 21%.

Another study, this one from Shanghai, China, points out that there are 15 polyphenols in green tea that likely work on different target areas of the body. They target 200 different genes in humans affecting diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, muscular disease and inflammation.

Other cancers like prostate and breast cancer benefit from green tea

This study shows evidence that habitual green tea drinkers do prevent prostate cancer and breast cancer to a certain extent.

Another study investigates the effect of tea on health. One of the studies from the same authors have shown that the oxidative damage to cells from cigarette smoking can come out in a urine test. Those smokers who drank 4 cups of tea per day had a 31% decrease in their urinary biomarkers to indicate DNA damage. As DNA damage is often the first step in cancer development, these findings are important to note.

Cognitive effects of green tea consumption in dementia patients

A 2017 review of dietary supplements to improve cognitive impairment pointed out several supplements that will improve cognition. Green tea is one of them, but omega-3 fatty acids (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are also useful supplements to restore neuronal functioning.

A 2017 study from Basel, Switzerland found that green tea improved memory, reduced anxiety and activated the working memory, which could be made visible on functional MRI scans. These researchers also pointed out that green tea has this effect as a whole, you cannot attribute it to a single constituent. Separate tests of  caffeine or L-Theanine  showed that the beneficial effect was smaller than when green tea as a whole was tested.

2016 study on severe Alzheimer’s patients

This 2016 Iranian study looked at 30 patients with severe Alzheimer’s disease. A baseline assessment was first, and 2 months after taking 4 green tea pills daily another assessment followed. A blood test measured the oxidative stress before and after, so was the antioxidant level from the green tea. The oxidative stress test showed an improvement during the study. The antioxidant level in the blood was higher than before the start of the study. The cognitive function test improved only slightly.

A 2018 study from Singapore looked at the effect of drinking tea (black tea or green tea) regarding symptoms of anxiety or depression. In a group of 614 subjects who were elderly individuals, aged 60 years and above; 59% consumed tea for longer than 15 years. These tea-drinking people were significantly less depressed and significantly less anxious when they underwent psychological tests, compared to non-tea drinkers.

Depression and green tea consumption

There is a 2018 study from South Korea that looked at the link of beverages from 15 studies with depression. 347,691 participants were part  of  these 15 studies, and 20,572 cases of depression developed. Comparing a high consumption of tea or coffee to low consumption, the following statistics were the result: coffee consumption reduced depression by 27%, green tea consumption by 29%.

The Benefits Of Drinking Green Tea

The Benefits Of Drinking Green Tea

Conclusion

Bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidants. But there are many more substances in green tea and coffee that are all beneficial for our health. One of the studies mentioned identified 15 polyphenols in green tea. But another study said that trying to identify one of the components as more active than the others would be a waste of time. They measured some of the factors by themselves and found that the overall effect was much smaller than green tea as a whole.

Other research has shown that the components of green tea activate several genes. This includes anti-inflammatory effects, prevention of heart attacks and strokes, lowering of blood pressure, anti-cancer effects, improvements of cognitive function, as well as improvement of depression and anxiety. As you can see the effect of green tea is diversified. Don’t hesitate to consume another cup of tea!

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Mar
31
2018

Self-Love Is Important

You need to appreciate that self-love is important, if you want stable mental health and well-being. Before you can take care of people around you, you need to practice self-love first. You cannot give love, if you don’t love yourself first. We get so busy in working hard, wanting to achieve goals and then surpass ourselves. We want to be perfect. But this is not possible without first looking after our own needs: again, self-love is important to be able to reach the goals you want to achieve.

Perfectionism can be harmful

Most of us were grew up  in the Western society thinking that perfectionism would be good for us. After all, we achieve things; we criticize ourselves and improve it even more; so finally we end up with our dream goal. What is the downside of perfectionism?

Perfectionism often comes with chronic stress, which can shorten our life span. Perfectionism leads to diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression and eating disorders. Depression can have a serious complication, namely suicide attempts and actual suicide. Perfectionists also often suffer from anxiety disorders that can make life miserable. Chronic stress together with perfectionism can weaken the immune system, which in turn can cause infections and even autoimmune diseases.

Moving away from perfectionism

The United Nations passed a resolution in 2012 saying, “pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.”

Psychologists also tell us that happiness is something we deserve to have; it is our right. A clinical psychologist in Vancouver, Canada, compares the inner critic of perfectionists to a “nasty adult beating the crap out of a tiny child”. We don’t have to beat ourselves up internally; it is not healthy for us. Don’t let the inner bully put yourself down for a minor thing that went wrong.

Start cultivating self-compassion. Self-compassion is not something that you have or do not have. According to psychologists self-compassion is something that you can learn.

The more you learn self-compassion, the less important perfectionism will be for you. You will still be productive and successful, but you will stop injuring yourself in the process.

Learning about self-compassion

Psychologists have researched how self-compassion can be developed. They even have invented an 8-week program that helps the client to build up self-compassion. These psychologists could measure a significant improvement of the level of self-compassion before taking the course and after completing it. According to Prof. Neff and associates there are three parts to self-compassion.

  • Self-kindness, which means treating yourself with understanding and forgiveness.
  • Recognition of one’s place in the shared humanity. This acknowledges that people are not perfect. It also means that personal experiences are part of the larger human experience.
  • Mindfulness, which means emotional balance and avoiding over identifying with painful emotions.

Listening to yourself

Dr. Kristin Neff has written a book that describes how to change your inner voice from a harsh voice to a softer, kinder internal voice. By becoming aware what your internal thoughts are, you can gradually change your internal talk. Profs. Neff and Germer have developed an 8-week course called “mindful self-compassion training”. In their own words “Self-compassion says, ‘Be kind to yourself in the midst of suffering and it will change.’ Mindfulness says, ‘Open to suffering with spacious awareness and it will change.'”

Part of the course is to learn how to deal with suffering when things go badly. In this case they recommend to their clients to repeat the following 3 phrases: “This is a moment of suffering,” “Suffering is a part of life,” and “May I be kind to myself.” This will take the sting away from the suffering and reduce the emotional pain.

Doubts about mindful self-compassion training?

You may have some doubts whether or not self-compassion training would work. But psychological tests regarding self-compassion ratings before and after the course have found a significant 43% difference. Similar compassion training can be found under this link.

These mindful exercises in self-compassion have been proven to down regulate the stress response. The hormones ACTH and cortisol in the blood were found to be much less in persons who had undergone self-compassion training. The training also was shown to increase heart rate variability, which is the body’s natural way to react to stress.

Not everybody is a good meditator. But apart from meditating there are other methods to recognize that self-love is important, as is self-compassion. You can write a letter to yourself, but pretend it comes from a close, loving friend. You could also write a letter that you pretend comes from you addressed to a person that you show compassion to.

Yoga to help you realize that self-love is important

Yoga is a great way to re-acquaint you with pleasures you experienced in childhood. Part of a yoga exercise can be “Mindful Eating”. You are simply refocusing your attention to the tastes that you may have taken for granted. Such a technique helps you to listen to yourself, become aware of your needs and train yourself in self-love and self-compassion. One of the top recommended Internet accessible yoga classes was this.

Self-love Is Important

Self-love Is Important

Conclusion

Perfectionism is widespread and is often taught in schools to be desirable. However, we become so good at this that it often turns into self-injurious behavior. We become harsh on ourselves and nothing is good enough to please us. And we expect perfection from people around us. We may even become abusive when they do not measure up to our expectations.

Dr. Kristin Neff has written a book that describes how to change your inner voice from a harsh voice to a softer, kinder internal voice. She also teaches an 8-week course at Harvard University how to develop self-compassion and self-love.

Mindful exercises in self-compassion

Mindful exercises in self-compassion have been proven to down regulate the stress response. It teaches you to deal with suffering when things go badly.

The bottom-line is to find your path away from perfectionism to a feeling of wholeness. And by achieving this we will free the negative energy of harsh and often unjustified criticism to give our best and succeed.