Aug
08
2020

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group stated that poor diets threaten Americans and cause diseases. More than 500,000 people in the US are dying every year because of poor nutrition. 46% of adults have unhealthy diets; but children have even more, namely 56%. In 1979 the US healthcare cost was 6.9% of the gross domestic product. Compare this to 2018 when the US healthcare cost was 17.7% of the gross domestic product.

The Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group states: “Poor diets lead to a harsh cycle of lower academic achievement in school, lost productivity at work, increased chronic disease risk, increased out-of-pocket health costs, and poverty for the most vulnerable Americans.”

You can improve your diet quality 

When you start cutting out junk food and other processed foods, the quality of your food intake is improving. Eat more vegetables, and fruit. Eat wild salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Do not consume vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grapeseed oil. They all contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and they convert mainly into energy. But the problem is that our western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can convert into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other. Use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil instead for cooking and on salads.

How does poor quality food affect your health?

Researchers are aware of trans fats causing Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes for a long time. They increase the bad LDL cholesterol, decrease the good HDL cholesterol. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. The FDA has started to initiate steps in 2015 to make the use of trans-fats in the food industry illegal. Completion of this in the US occurs in early 2020.

Japanese trans-fat study (Alzheimer’s disease)

This Japanese study followed 1,628 Japanese community residents (men and women) for about 10 years. Researchers used the typical trans fatty acid, elaidic acid to monitor the accumulation of trans fats in patients. This is possible with a simple blood test, which serves as a marker for industrial trans fats. 377 participants developed dementia (247 Alzheimer’s disease and 102 vascular dementia). Based on the blood elaidic acid levels earlier in the study individuals with higher trans-fat levels were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the study progressed. Patients whose trans-fat blood levels were in the higher range were 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits. Note that it is not only your dietary habits that determine this, but in addition, several lifestyle factors.

Cardiovascular disease

Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack. It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

Cancer

90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking. Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, consuming too much alcohol causes cancer of the colon and rectum in both sexes.

Diabetes

There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

Chronic diseases

Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into your system and adds to chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

Conclusion

A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group has been formed, which noted that many Americans follow very poor diets. 46% of adults in the US have unhealthy diets; but children have even more poor diets, namely 56%. This is of concern, because in time this causes a variety of diseases discussed here. Instead of just treating the symptoms of these diseases, it is important to improve the diet people are on, which prevents the development of these diseases. A well-balanced diet not only prevents diseases, it also leads to longevity and healthy aging without Alzheimer’s disease. Take care of what you eat, and be sure it is healthy!

Part of this text was published before here.

Aug
01
2020

Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

Research on white women aged 70 years or older found that eating fish protects the brain from air pollution. Dr. Ka He from the Columbia University of New York published the new study on July 15, 2020 in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

1,315 women who did not have dementia at the start of the study enrolled in it. Researchers measured the air pollution of the areas where the women lived. They also measured their omega-3 fatty acid blood levels. They found that women from polluted areas who ate the lowest amounts of fish and had the lowest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, had the highest amount of brain shrinkage.

Methods of determining brain shrinkage, omega-3 fatty acids and pollution

The amount of brain shrinkage was determined with MRI scans of the brain. The amount of white brain matter was measured, particularly the size of the memory-sensitive hippocampus. Blood omega-3 fatty acid content was determined in red blood cells. Pollution was determined by the fine particulate matter in air pollution at the address where the patient lived. Every woman in the study received a diet questionnaire regarding fish consumption. From this information the researchers determined the average fish consumption per week. This included broiled and baked fish, non-fried shellfish, canned tuna, tuna casserole and tuna salad. Deep fried fish was not part of the list, because other studies showed that deep-frying damages omega-3 fatty acids.

More details regarding the study

The researchers adjusted the study according to age, smoking status, and other factors that could affect brain shrinkage. Women with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had the highest volume of white matter in their brains as MRI scans showed. Specifically, the researchers noted the following findings:

  • Women with the highest omega-3 fatty acid level had 410 cubic cm white matter
  • Women with the lowest omega-3 fatty acid level had 403 cubic cm white matter
  • Each quartile increase in air pollution caused shrinkage of white matter by 11.52 cubic cm in those women with low omega-3 fatty acid consumption
  • In women with higher omega-3 fatty acid levels each quartile increase in air pollution caused shrinkage of white matter by only 0.12 cubic cm
  • Women with the highest omega-3 fatty acid intake had the highest volume of the hippocampus

Comments by the lead author of the study

Dr. Ka He stated: “Our findings suggest that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood from fish consumption may preserve brain volume as women age and possibly protect against the potential toxic effects of air pollution.” But Dr. Ka He cautioned: “It’s important to note that our study only found an association between brain volume and eating fish. It does not prove that eating fish preserves brain volume. And since separate studies have found some species of fish may contain environmental toxins, it’s important to talk to a doctor about what types of fish to eat before adding more fish to your diet.”

Limitations of study

The study was involving older white women. This means that the results cannot be generalized to Afro Americans, Hispanics or Asians. The researchers examined exposure to pollution only later in life, not in early life or midlife. Hopefully future studies will examine what happens with lifelong exposure to pollution.

How to limit mercury exposure when eating fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly present in fish. It has plaque-reducing properties and also reduces the risk for abnormal heart beats. Overall this means less cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends a 3.5 oz. serving of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring or sardines) twice per week.

Mercury and other pollutants

Pollution of the air, soil and rivers is causing accumulation of mercury and other heavy metals in ocean water.

This affects fish that live in the ocean. There is a pecking order of predators with the larger fish feeding on the smaller fish. The bigger the predator fish, the more mercury and other pollutants they accumulate. According to this link the safest seafood is wild salmon, pollock and oysters.

High mercury content of predator fish

Tuna is too high in mercury, so is swordfish, and shark is even worse. I only consume fish from freshwater lakes or rivers, as well as salmon, oysters and shrimp. This way I get the lowest exposure to mercury. Why is mercury bad for you? It is a neurotoxin. It can harm your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and the immune system. Specific symptoms can include loss of peripheral vision and lack of coordination with balancing problems. There may be impairment of speech and hearing. The key is to avoid mercury exposure.

Smaller fish low in mercury

The first line of defense is to stick to the smaller fish. They are they prey of the large predator fish. The following fish/mussels belong into the low mercury group (alphabetical order): anchovies, catfish, clam, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, herring, mackerel, mullet, oyster, perch, pollock, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sole, squid, trout and whitefish.

Molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acid supplements

You may want to supplement your omega-3 fatty acid intake by fish oil capsules. It is important that you choose the more expensive higher potency products. A molecular distillation process that removes mercury, PCB and other heavy metals creates these higher potency products. This way you only get the enriched omega-3 fatty acids in pure form. EPA and DHA in one capsule should be in the 900 mg to 1000 mg range, not less. I take 2 capsules twice per day as a daily supplement. This helps you to balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which cuts down any inflammatory process (from too many omega-6 fatty acids) in you.

Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

Conclusion

A new study from the Columbia University of New York has shown that women older than 70 can preserve the white matter of their brains by consumption of fish. This included the hippocampus which is crucial for memory. The researchers measured the recent exposure of these women to pollution. They noted that the women who were exposed to the highest amounts of pollution had the best protection of the white matter of their brains by the highest consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, but when enough omega-3 fatty acids are part of the nutrition, the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio switches towards anti-inflammation and health.

How to consume omega-3 fatty acids safely

Omega-3 fatty acids are in fish and seafood. Unfortunately, mercury is contaminating these foods. But when you stick to the smaller fish and use molecularly distilled omega-3 supplements you can largely avoid this problem.

Parts of this text has been published before here.

Jul
25
2020

The Immune System Changes With Age

When we are young, we do not think about our immune system, but the immune system changes with age. When we are older than age 60, we notice that we may be taking longer to recover from a flu.

How does the immune system work?

There are two parts to the immune system, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system works to protect us from bacteria, viruses, toxins and fungi from the time we are born. The adaptive immune system uses B lymphocytes from the bone marrow to produce antibodies against viruses. This provides often lifelong immunity against this specific virus, but takes 3 to 5 days to kick in. Vaccinations can also trigger antibody production to protect us from viruses in the future. Both the adaptive and the innate immune system work together closely.

What are the ingredients for a fully functioning immune system?

The immune system consists of various immune organs that are distributed throughout the body. The bone marrow produces lymphocytes, granulocytes, macrophages, eosinophils and basophils. The adenoids in the back of the nasal passages and the tonsils in the back of the throat contain a lot of lymphocytes that are ready to protect us from colds and flus. We have lymph nodes throughout the body and they are connected with lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes filter the lymph fluid that travels in the lymphatic vessels.

Other sites of lymphocyte production

The small intestine contains the Peyer’s patches, a collection of lymphocytes that protect our gut from invading bacteria or viruses. The spleen is located in the left abdominal cavity under the diaphragm. It removes old red blood cells and provides lymphocytes for the immune system. The thymus gland is located between the breast bone and the trachea. It changes bone marrow derived lymphocytes (B cells) into T lymphocytes that can process antigens from viruses and pass them on to the adaptive immune system for a full antibody response.

Cellular interactions between various players of the immune system

Back in the 1970’s it was already known that there were bone marrow derived B lymphocytes and thymus processed T lymphocytes. We knew then that B cells were involved in antibody production (adaptive immunity). T lymphocytes were thought to turn into killer T lymphocytes to kill cancer cells. But some T cells were T helper cells to process antigen and present it to B lymphocytes for antibody production.

More research since then refined what we know about the cells of the immune system.

Natural killer cells (NK cells)

Natural killer cells (NK cells) are part of the innate immune system. They attack cancer cells and cells that are infected by viruses. It takes about 3 days for their full action to develop. NK cells utilize the cell surface histocompatibility complex to decide whether to destroy a cell or not. T cell lymphocytes do not have the ability to do that. In the Covid-19 coronavirus situation NK cells play an important role to combat the disease right away.

Monocytes

They are large white blood cells that can differentiate further into macrophages and dendritic cells. Monocytes are part of the innate immunity, but they have an antigen presenting capability, which makes them also part of the adaptive immunity.

Memory T cells

The immune system learns to adapt to viruses and bacteria that we have come in contact with. The reason for the memory of the immune cells are the memory T cells. They replicate like stem cells, which keeps a clone of T lymphocytes, T helper cells and cytotoxic T killer cells in the background. They circulate through the body including the lymph glands and the spleen.

Immunosenescence as we age

There are several factors that come together, which age our immune system. The term for this is “immunosenescence“. There are genetic differences and differences due to the sex hormones. Estrogens increase the response of the immune system. In contrast, progesterone and androgens (including testosterone) decrease the immune response. This may be the reason why women tend to live longer than men.

As we age there are more and more memory T cells (both cytotoxic T cells and T helper cells). This weakens the formation of the natural killer cells (NK cells) of the innate immune system. Even the initiation of the adaptive immune system can be slower when we age and also the response to the flu vaccine. In addition, this can pave the way to autoimmune diseases.

The immune system changes with age: Evidence of immunosenescence

The following 3 factors show whether a person has immunosenescence:

  • The immune system has difficulties to respond to new viruses/bacteria or to vaccines
  • Accumulation of memory T cells crowding out cells of the rest of the immune system
  • Low-grade inflammation that is chronic and persists (“inflamm-aging”)

The process of immunosenescence starts with the involution of the thymus gland around the time of puberty. At that time the sex hormone secretion is highest. At the same time a growth factor from the bone marrow and the thymus gland decreases. It has the name interleukin-7 (IL-7). The end result is a slow decrease of the innate immune system with age and a more substantial weakening of the adaptive immune system due to a lack of naïve T and B cells. 

Chronic viruses can weaken the immune system further

The varicella herpes zoster virus causes chickenpox. In some people the chickenpox virus can persist, but the immune system actively keeps it controlled. In the 60’s or 70’s when the immune system is weakened from aging, there can be a flare-up as shingles, a localized form of the chickenpox virus.

Another virus, the human cytomegalovirus can cause a chronic infection that often persists lifelong. In this case the immune system is chronically weakened because of a massive accumulation of T memory cells, which keeps the human cytomegalovirus infection at bay.

What we need when the immune system changes with age 

Vitamin A

Both the innate and adaptive immunity depend on vitamin A and its metabolites. The skin cells and mucosal cells function as a barrier, which is important for the innate immunity. The skin/mucosal lining of the eye, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts help the innate immunity to keep viruses and bacteria out of the body. Vitamin A is important to support macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer (NK) cells. In addition, vitamin A supports the adaptive immune system, namely T and B lymphocytes, so that the body can produce specific antibodies against viruses.

I do not take vitamin A supplements as I eat diversified foods like spinach, vegetables, poultry, Brussels sprout, fish and dairy products that contain vitamin A and carotenoids.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant. It can neutralize reactive oxygen species, which are produced when the immune cells fight viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes are all supported by vitamin C. Vitamin C and E co-operate in their antioxidant functions. Vitamin C is essential for a strong antibody response with bacterial or viral infections. I take 1000 mg of vitamin C once daily.

Vitamin D

The immune system is very dependent on vitamin D as the immune cells all contain vitamin D receptors. People who have less than 10 ng/mL of vitamin D in the blood are vitamin D deficient. They have much higher death rates when they get infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Vitamin D regulates the expression of target genes. At the center is the vitamin D receptor, which is a nuclear transcription factor. Together with the retinoic X receptor (from vitamin A) the vitamin D receptor binds small sequences of DNA. They have the name “vitamin D response elements” and are capable of initiating a cascade of molecular interactions. The result is a modulation of specific genes. Researchers identified thousands of vitamin D response elements that regulate between 100 and 1250 genes.

You need enough vitamin D for your immune system

When enough vitamin D is present in the blood (more than 30 ng/mL) the immune system releases the peptides cathelicidins and defensins, which effectively destroy bacteria and viruses.

Vitamin D has mainly an inhibitory function regarding adaptive immunity. It inhibits antibody production from B cells and also dampens the effect of T cells. Researchers reported that vitamin D3 is useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

I am a slow absorber of vitamin D3 as repeat blood vitamin D levels showed. I need 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to get a blood level of 50-80 ng/mL (=125-200 nmol/L). This is the higher range of normal. Everybody is different. Ask your physician to check your blood level of vitamin D. Toxic vitamin D blood levels are only starting above 150 ng/mL (= 375 nmol/L).

Vitamin E

This is a vitamin that is fat soluble and helps the body to maintain its cell membranes. But researchers found that vitamin E also stimulates the T cell-mediated immune response. This is particularly important for the aging person to prevent respiratory tract infections. I take 125 mg of Annatto tocotrienols per day (this is the most potent form of vitamin E).

Vitamin B6

This vitamin is important for antibody production by B cells. Vitamin B6 regulates the metabolism of amino acids, which in turn form proteins. Antibodies and cytokines require vitamin B6. The T helper immune cells that initiate an adaptive immune response depend on vitamin B6 as well. I take a multi B complex vitamin (Mega B 50) twice per day, so I supplement with a total of 100 mg of vitamin B6 daily.

Folate

Folic acid is a coenzyme for the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Studies in humans and animals have shown that folate deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infections. People with folate deficiency develop a megaloblastic anemia with immune weakness that leads to chronic infections. With my B complex supplement I get 2 mg of folic acid daily.

Vitamin B12

Methylation pathways depend on vitamin B12 as a coenzyme. Vitamin B12 is also involved as a coenzyme in the production of energy from fats and proteins. In addition, hemoglobin synthesis depends on vitamin B12. Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency develop pernicious anemia. These patients also have a weak immune system due to natural killer cell activity suppression and because circulating lymphocyte numbers are significantly decreased.

Treatment with cyanocobalamin reverses the immune weakness rapidly and treats pernicious anemia at the same time. I take 50 micrograms twice per day as part of the Mega-B50 multivitamin tablet. But I also inject 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 every 6 months subcutaneously to be sure it is absorbed into the body. In older age the intrinsic factor from the stomach lining, which is required for absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine, can be missing, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency despite swallowing supplements.

Minerals required for a good immune response

Researchers identified five minerals that are essential for a strong immune system. They are zinc, iron, selenium, copper and magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is important for a normal function of the innate and adaptive immune system. As zinc cannot be stored in the body, taking regular zinc supplements (30 to 50 mg daily) is important. I take 50 mg of amino acid chelated zinc daily.

Iron

Iron is important for cell oxygen transport and storage, DNA synthesis and for mounting an effective immune response. In particular it is the T cell differentiation and proliferation where iron is needed. Iron deficient people get a lot of infections because the immune system is paralyzed. I eat one spinach salad or steamed spinach daily, which gives me enough iron supply per day.

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that is important for a normal immune response and for cancer prevention. When selenium is missing, both the adaptive and innate immune system are suffering. In this case viruses are more virulent. With selenium supplementation cell-mediated immunity is improved and the immune response to viruses is more potent. I take 200 micrograms of selenium per day.

Copper

Deficiency in copper results in a very low neutrophil blood count and causes susceptibility to infections. Copper is a trace mineral that participates in several enzymatic reactions. It is important for the innate immune response to bacterial infections. A well-balanced Mediterranean diet contains enough copper, which is why I do not supplement with extra copper.

Magnesium

An important cofactor for vitamin D in the body is magnesium. Magnesium participates in many enzymatic reactions. Between vitamin D and magnesium, the immune system is strengthened. I take 150 mg of magnesium citrate twice per day. By the way, magnesium also helps us to get a restful sleep, if we take it at bedtime.

Other dietary factors that strengthen the immune system

Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body and help to modulate the immune system. I take 1800 mg of omega-3 (EPA/DHA) twice per day. I also like to eat fish and seafood at least 3 times per week.

Probiotics benefit both the innate and the adaptive immune system. They strengthen the epithelial gut barrier, which is an important innate immune defence. Probiotics also lower the risk for Clostridium difficile gut infections. I take one probiotic every morning.

The Immune System Changes With Age

The Immune System Changes With Age

Conclusion

The immune system consists of different organs like the bone marrow, the spleen, lymph glands, Peyer’s patches in the gut, the thymus gland and more. There is the innate immune system, which responds immediately to a virus like the Covid-19 coronavirus. The adaptive immune response involves antibody production against, for instance, the measle virus or the mumps virus. With the aging process the immune system slows down (immunosenescence). This involves an accumulation of memory T cells and a depletion of natural killer cells (NK cells). This means that the innate immunity is getting weaker as we age and chronic inflammation occurs more often. This is the reason why people above the age of 65 get more severe symptoms from the Covid-19 coronavirus. They are also more affected by influenza-type illnesses.

Take supplements to strengthen the immune system

I reviewed the cofactors of a healthy immune system in some detail. It is important that you pay attention to these, particularly the vitamin D3 intake. With a strong immune system, we can survive viral infections better, including the current Covid-19 coronavirus. Future research will likely detect how to reactivate a sluggish immune system in older people. This way vaccination responses following flu injections will become more reliable in seniors.

Jul
18
2020

Key Factors for Centenarians

A study from Washington State University (WSU) showed some of the key factors for centenarians to survive. The publication of the study goes back to June 17, 2020. In general, it was common knowledge that genetics plays a role in 25% to 35% of centenarians for their survival. That is to say, the remainder is the result of lifestyle factors. It is important to realize that the environmental factors play a significant role in the survival of centenarians, said Rajan Bhardwaj, a second-year WSU medical student. He and his research team determined what allowed centenarians to reach an age of 100 or above. Briefly, they identified the following factors that were necessary.

Three factors identified by the Washington State University study

  • walkability of the neighbourhood, which encourages regular exercising
  • belonging to the higher socioeconomic class
  • a high percentage of working population in the neighborhood (a mixed population) was also important

In the discussion the authors of the WSU study said that “blue zones” of centenarians had been mentioned before in the literature. To clarify, these are areas in the world where more than the average of centenarians live. Dan Buettner used the term “blue zones” in a National Geographic article about where centenarians were located.

The blue zones

He wrote a book about the location of the 5 blue zones. Notably, they are located in Sardinia (Italy), the islands of Okinawa and a group of Seven Day Adventists in Loma Linda. California. In addition, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, and the island of Icaria, Greece complete the 5 blue zones. Specifically, Dan Buettner described the following characteristics of the lifestyle of centenarians.

  • They engage in regular physical activity
  • Mostly eating a plant-based diet including legumes
  • Calorie intake is moderate
  • Moderate intake of alcohol, mostly wine
  • Having a purpose in life
  • Engaged in family life
  • Having an active spiritual life
  • Reducing stress
  • Engaged in social life

Other attributes of centenarians

Dr. Thierry Hertoghe gave a presentation in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2019 where he stated that centenarians are positive thinkers. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. In particular, the topic of his talk was “Positive Psychological Attitudes of Centenarians “. Dr. Hertoghe is an endocrinologist in Belgium. He took an interest in people above the age of 100. These people, he felt, are special people with a very optimistic outlook on life. Dr. Hertoghe went on to say that centenarians have a will to live. Indeed, they adapt to changes; they have a sense of purpose, and they stay active.

More positive attributes of centenarians

Other psychological features, by the same token, show that they have a positive mood and they avoid stress and anxiety. Another key point is that they have self-determination. It must be remembered also that they are very sociable, have close family ties, love their relationships and often have a strong religious faith. In addition, there is a connection between their basic values, beliefs and spirituality. Truly, centenarians insist on their freedom and they have a feeling of youth. For one thing, centenarians have their own centenarian spirit where they can feel young or old.

In the following I am reviewing some of the details that Dr. Hertoghe gave.

The will to live

For one thing, it takes courage to grow old, and all centenarians have this. They say “Life is worth living”. Essentially, they have a certain resiliency in a world that has an obsession about youth. Despite negative experiences they had to overcome they do not give up and they enjoy life as much as they can. A Finnish study examined 400 individuals aged 75-90 and followed them for 10 years. Group 1 who wished to live less than 5 years had a mortality rate of 68%. Group 2 wished to live for 5-10 years. They had a mortality of 45.6%. The last group, group 3 wanted to live more than 10 years. Surprisingly, their mortality was only 33.3%. Be careful what you wish for!

Adaptability

In other words, this describes the capacity to overcome adversity and your ability to adjust. In a study of 7400 Chinese centenarians’ resilience to changes was measured with psychometric psychological tests. The majority of subjects did not qualify for being resilient. However, 9% of male centenarians and 6% of female centenarians had the resiliency where they qualified for high adaptability. This high resilience group had a 2%-4% lower mortality risk. They had a 36%-55% higher probability of not developing cognitive impairment. That is to say, they rated themselves to be in good health and having a “good life” satisfaction. These resilient centenarians had a 7%-12% higher probability of not developing a physical disability. In essence, these high resilient centenarians had no short-term health decline.

Remaining active

If a centenarian remains active and moves about several hours per day, the body functions are preserved. Anna Mary Robertson Moses who was known by her nickname “Grandma Moses” took up painting at age 78. She died at age 101 in 1961.

Positive emotions

One study of 54 Ashkenazi Jewish older adults (aged 98-107) compared those with positive emotions to those with negative emotions. The researchers noted that a positive attitude about life allowed centenarians to live longer.

A study involving 2282 Mexican Americans aged 65 to 99 showed that positive affect scores were a predictor for the following. Subjects with a high positive affect had a 52% lower probability of becoming physically disabled. They were 36% less likely than the negative controls to lose their walking speed. In addition, they were 47% less likely to die during the two-year observation period than their negative controls.

Nurses’ Health Study and Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study

Two studies, the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study measured optimism. The researchers found that those with the highest optimism scores had a 1.5-fold higher probability in women and 1.7-fold in men to survive to age 85. This was compared to a control with the lowest optimism scores. Dr. Hertoghe provided 19 more studies that showed the effects of positive emotions regarding long term survival. For brevity reasons I will not dwell on them here.

What is the centenarian spirit?

When people are older than 100 years, they often have a mix of humor and eccentricity; they express emotions openly and they are happy people. They accept the death of spouses, siblings and significant others.

By the way, humor has a strong predictive survivor value. In a study that researchers conducted over 15 years, there was a clear positive effect of humor regarding mortality. A sense of humor reduced the all-cause mortality by 48% in males. In women humor lowered mortality regarding cardiovascular disease by 73%. Humor reduced death due to infections in women by 83%. Men had a non-significant reduction of all‐cause mortality by 12% and a significant lower mortality due to infections by 74%. Dr. Hertoghe cited three more publications that showed the power of humor in reducing disease and disability.

The fasting mimicking diet helps you to reach a longer life

clinical trial with 100 subjects was undertaken by Dr. Longo and his research team. He measured markers after 3 cycles of a fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month. They found that the FMD reduced aging markers, improved diabetes and reduced susceptibility for cancer and cardiovascular disease. In another publication Dr. Longo and co-authors describe how autoimmune diseases can be improved by the use the fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Another publication by Dr. Longo describes that “age-related disorders including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke” can be prevented by fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Even cancer prevention and cancer treatment can be helped by the fasting mimicking diet.  The FMD makes chemotherapy more tolerable.

Key Factors for Centenarians

Key Factors for Centenarians

Conclusion

As we reviewed the factors that lead to longevity, we learnt that engaging in regular moderate exercise is one of the key factors. But belonging to the higher socioeconomic class and living in a mixed neighborhood with people from all walks of life is also important. We also reviewed the blue zones according to Dan Buettner. Mostly eating a plant-based diet including legumes with moderate calorie restriction prolongs your life. Add to this moderate intake of alcohol, mostly wine, and having a purpose in life. Augment this further with being engaged in family life, having an active spiritual life and reducing your stress level.

Living longer is a matter of fulfilling these longevity factors

With all of this you are on your way to become a centenarian. A review by Dr. Hertoghe in a lecture given at an Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas in 2019 added more criteria centenarians have. He provided references regarding the will to live, being adaptable, remaining active and harboring positive emotions. The more of these factors you can adopt, the longer you will live. At the same time, you will avoid getting diseases like heart attacks, strokes or cancer, which leads to a longer and healthier life.

The above text contains parts of this blog. The part about the fasting mimicking diet was published here before.

Jul
11
2020

Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

A new study showed that fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk. This study was reviewed here.

The article is based on the June 10, 2020 publication of the British Medical Journal.

They did large population studies showing that obesity is an independent risk factor for severe disease and death from Covid-19. One study with 428,225 participants had 340 admitted to hospital with confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus. 44% of them were overweight and 34% were obese. Another study, the OpenSAFELY study used linked electronic health records. 17,425, 445 participants were included and 5,683 Covid-19 deaths occurred. In this study there were 29% overweight and 33% obese persons. The researchers noted a dose-response relationship between excess weight and severity of Covid-19. The researchers removed confounding factors like age, sex, ethnicity, and social deprivation.

Critical illness and death rates in overweight and obese people

They realized that critical illness caused by Covid-19 was increased compared to normal-weight people as follows.

  • Covid-19 risk 44% higher in overweight people
  • Covid-19 risk 97% higher in people with obesity

This means that the risk for serious illness from Covid-19 was 1.44-fold for overweight persons and 1.97-fold for obese persons compared to normal-weight controls. The OpenSAFELY study also looked at the death rates from Covid-19 for people with obesity. Two obesity categories were investigated: obesity with a BMI of 30-34.9 and BMI of greater than 40 compared to normal-weight controls. Here are the death rates.

  • BMI of 30-34.9: 1.27-fold increased risk
  • BMI of greater than 40: 2.27-fold risk

Possible mechanisms explaining fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk

The researchers mentioned three possible mechanisms why overweight and obese people may have higher Covid-19 disease and death rates than normal-weight controls.

First, angiotensin converting enzyme-2 is found with higher frequency in fat cells of overweight and obese persons. Researchers are aware of the fact that the Covid-19 coronavirus uses this enzyme to enter body cells. It may also be the reason that fat cells become reservoirs that can shed virus for much longer than in normal-weight people with less fat cells. They pointed out that others have seen this also and found it with other viruses. In the case of influenza A, obesity prolonged viral shedding by 42% compared to normal-weight controls. And with H1N1 influenza obesity was an independent risk factor for hospitalization and death.

Weaker immune system, more lung resistance

Secondly, any virus can weaken the host’s defence of the immune system. Researchers showed this previously with the influenza virus. But now with Covid-19 coronavirus the cytokine storm due to a weak immune system is a major factor in making the viral infection worse. A lack of vitamin D is another factor in promoting the cytokine storm.

Third, obesity decreases lung function and it is difficult to improve this. There is greater lung resistance in the airways and it is difficult to expand the lungs in obese patients. When the doctor transfers patients with obesity to the intensive care unit, it is more difficult to increase their oxygen saturation with artificial ventilation.

Unhealthy environment, so fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk

The researchers point out that we live in a very unhealthy environment. In 2016 there were 1.9 billion people worldwide who were overweight or obese. These figures are rapidly rising. Presently about 65% to 70% are overweight or obese in the UK or the US. Obesity causes high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and cancer. We are all surrounded by processed food with extra salt, sugar, wheat and other unhealthy ingredients. The high mortality and deaths rates of Covid-19 in overweight and obese people point to the problem that society has.

Reduce salt, sugar and saturated fats in food

The culprits are salt, sugar and saturated fats. Merchants and food producers must reduce them in processed food. In the UK new government regulations have already resulted in lower salt content in foods. As a result, there is less high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is in decline. All nations need to reduce salt, sugar, and saturated fat. When the weight comes down, we all are less prone to catching dangerous viruses.

Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

Conclusion

The pandemic has taught us a new lesson, namely that overweight and obese people are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 coronavirus. In a research paper of the British Medical Journal concrete figures showed that the Covid-19 risk is 44% higher in overweight people and that it is 97% higher in people with obesity. The OpenSAFELY study also showed that obese people with a BMI of 30-34.9 have a 1.27-fold increased risk of catching Covid-19. But morbidly obese people with a BMI of greater than 40 have a 2.27-fold risk of catching Covid-19. There is a clear linear dose-response curve between the amount of fat a person accumulates and the risk for Covid-19.

Cut out junk food and decrease your risk for Covid-19

Covid-19 is directly related to the amount of junk food we eat. As a result we can say that eating junk food increases the Covid-19 risk. The opposite is true also: sensible eating and cutting out junk food makes you lose some pounds, and your risk for Covid-19 decreases.

Jul
04
2020

Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

In general, probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems can help patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is important to realize that about ¾ of Americans suffer from digestive problems. They develop symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea and stomach pains. To put it another way, about 1 in 7 Americans suffer from the condition, called chronic irritable bowel syndrome. That is to say, he underlying problem is an imbalance of gut bacteria where the bad ones outnumber the good ones. There are a number or reasons why bowel flora gets disrupted. We eat more processed foods, less fiber, and beef products from industry farms contain antibiotic residues. In feedlots for beef cattle antibiotics are fed to the animals as growth promoters. The residues in the meat kill the good bacteria in our guts and the bad ones proliferate. This causes digestive problems, but also weakens our immune system.

How probiotics work

Probiotics can restore our gut flora to a large extent. But some of the probiotic action gets lost in the stomach from the acidic milieu. A recent publication from a panel of gastroenterologists has not supported the wide use of probiotics. They came to the conclusion that probiotics have not shown enough benefit to a number of clinical conditions. The researchers mentioned Crohn’s disease, C. difficile infection, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in particular of not responding to probiotics. But this may be because of inactivation of some of the power of the probiotics by stomach acid. In addition, by not using phages to potentiate the probiotic action probiotics may fail to permanently to improve the gut flora. I have previously discussed the importance of probiotics for the gut flora.

History and use of bacteriophages

Bacteriophages are now often just called phages. Dr. Frederick Twort, an Englishman detected phages in 1915 during World War I. Essentially a phage consists of either DNA or RNA and a protein envelope around this. Phages are very specific for certain bacterial strains. They attach to the bacteria and inject their own DNA or RNA into the bacteria. This stops the bacteria from multiplying, but makes the bacteria produce many more identical phages. Phages are useful to control the growth of problem bugs including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, the regulatory agencies were slow to approve phages despite a good safety record. Life Extension Magazine recently published a review article about this subject.

Phages helping to protect probiotic bacteria

Phages naturally play a role in keeping the gut flora stable. In this lengthy review, published in January 2020 phage actions are reviewed. It also mentions the connection between the gut flora and the immune system. The Life Extension Magazine article mentioned above describes experiments that show the action of phages. E. coli is the main bacterium in the large intestine. It is also the bacterium that can cause pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections.

Experiments with bacteria and phages in Petri dishes

According to the Life Extension Magazine article researchers did experiments with Bifidobacterium longum, one of the desirable gut bacteria. This was placed on a Petri dish along with E. coli bacteria. In a second Petri dish Bifidobacterium longum, E. coli and a phage mix were placed. After 5 hours there was hardly any growth of Bifidobacterium longum in the first petri dish, as it was crowded out by E. coli. The result in the second Petri dish was interesting: the Bifidobacterium longum colonies were 7000-times higher in number than in the other Petri dish without the phage mixture. The phages had selectively attacked the E. coli bacteria, which made room for the Bifidobacterium longum bacteria to multiply.

Animal experiments with bacteria and phages

The Life Extension Magazine review mentions animal experiments with phages next. One group of mice received B. longum and the disease-causing E. coli in their food. The other group had the same bacteria plus a mix of phages directed against E. coli. For the phage group the results within 24 hours were as follows.

  • The E. coli count in the small intestine was 10-fold lower, in the large intestine 100-fold lower and in the fecal matter 100-fold lower.
  • The phage group also had a 100-fold increase of the B. longum count in the small intestine. The large intestine also had a 100-fold increase of the B. longum count. And there was a 40-fold increase of B. longum in the fecal matter.

Control mice without the phage mix developed constipation and intestinal segments showed redness, swelling and leaks. In contrast, the phage mix group of mice showed no side effects and had improved digestive function.

Human studies using probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems

Safety tests of phage therapy were next in 2005 involving 15 volunteers. There were no side effects using two different phage concentrations to diminish E. coli. Researchers had done other safety experiments in Russia and in Poland in the past. Patients with ulcerative colitis responded with improved symptoms and improved endoscopic findings to treatment with two probiotics. They received fermented milk products (Cultura) containing live lactobacilli (La-5) and bifidobacteria (Bb-12) for 4 weeks. There were 51 patients with ulcerative colitis and 10 patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. Abdominal cramps, Involuntary defecation, leakage and the need for napkins were significantly reduced in both groups. An endoscopic score of inflammation showed a significant decreased when the baseline exam was compared to the exam after the 4-week intervention.

Literature review about phages

Here is a thorough review in a publication dated 2004 from Poland describing the action of bacteriophages, now simply called phages. It lists many human experiments and shows that phages are safe to use in humans.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) presents with a pathological intestinal function, which can be quite disabling. Another name for it is “spastic colon”, because many patients complain of significant bowel spasms. Some health providers still use this alternative term. This syndrome is more common among women and there is a theory that female hormones may have something to do with the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Testosterone on the other hand may have a calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms and treatment of IBS

Generally speaking, irritable bowel syndrome occurs first in the teens or early twenties, but then frequently tends to become chronic. The patient chiefly complains of abdominal bloating and distension. Bowel movements lead to a marked relief of pain. There is often mucous in the stools. After a bowel movement there is often a feeling that the rectum did not empty entirely, even though it did. Food intake or stress can bring on these symptoms and they always occur during the waking period. At nights most patients have no pain.

Among other measures taking probiotics alone or mixed with phages can normalize the bowel flora. In older men IBS symptoms may indicate a reduction in testosterone production. If the blood contains a low testosterone level, the physician may want to replace the missing testosterone with injections or bioidentical testosterone creams. This can improve IBS in older males.

A safe delivery system for probiotics and a phage blend for digestive problems

Life Extension has developed a dual capsule that brings the inner content safely through the stomach and protects the mix of probiotics and phages from stomach acid. The capsule only opens in the small intestine where it releases its content of probiotics and phages into the gut. This allows the good bacteria like B. longum to multiply and suppresses E. coli, which would otherwise interfere with the beneficial bacteria.

Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

Probiotics and a Phage Blend for Digestive Problems

Conclusion

About ¾ of Americans suffer from digestive problems. Many have a disbalance of the gut flora. But it is not easy to replace poor gut flora with a healthy one. Recent research showed that a combination of 7 probiotic strains with a mix of 4 E. coli fighting phages can give tremendous relief from bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramps to patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Life Extension has developed a special dual capsule that “sneaks” the capsule through the stomach. It will only open in the small intestine. This way the content of the inner capsule with the mix of probiotics/phages stays safe from the stomach acid. At the end many more beneficial bowel-bacteria are growing in the small and large intestine. This normalizes the symptoms of the patient and leads to better digestion of food. Probiotics and phages are the new players in the gut microbiome.

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May
16
2020

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

A Jan. 8, 2020 study stated that cutting out bad lifestyle habits increases life expectancy. It was a publication in the British Medical Journal by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The senior author of the study was Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School. The researchers looked at data collected from a large group of males and females that had been accumulated for 34 years. They found that a 50-year-old male or female who did not change their lifestyle habits had another 25.5 years to live for males and another 29 years to live for females.

Five bad lifestyles and life expectancy 

The 5 bad lifestyle habits were smoking, a body mass index above 25.0, excessive alcohol intake, less than 30 minutes of exercise per day and an unhealthy diet.

When people cut out all of those risky lifestyles, 50-year-old men and women had a life expectancy of 37.6 years for men and 43.1 years for women. This was an addition of 12 years of healthy life for men compared to controls who did not change their lifestyles. With regard to women there was an addition of 14 years of life compared to controls.

Diseases that kill prematurely

The research team wanted to know what diseases caused the most reduction in life expectancy when people did not change their bad lifestyle habits. Men and women who cut out all negative lifestyle habits were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. They also were 65% less likely to die from cancer. Bad lifestyles caused the two major diseases, cardiovascular disease (heart attack and strokes) and cancer, which increased overall mortality. The overall study time was about 30 years. The third major disease that can cost lives is diabetes. In addition, the research team identified chronic diseases as being another potential cause of people dying prematurely.

Additional life expectancy

When life expectancies were broken down according to diseases, the following was noticed.

For men:

When cancer free    When free of heart issues   Without diabetes

6 more years             9 more years                         10 more years

For women:

When cancer free    When free of heart issues   Without diabetes

8 more years            10 more years                       12 more years

Dr. Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said: ”We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free”. Those who do not shed their bad lifestyle habits will come down with one or more of the mentioned diseases and die prematurely. Others who cut out all their bad lifestyle choices live substantially longer.

Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits.

Cardiovascular disease

Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack.

It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

Cancer

90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking.

Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, cancer of the colon and rectum are also caused by consuming too much alcohol in both sexes.

Diabetes

There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

Chronic diseases

Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into the system and adds to the chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

Conclusion

Bad lifestyle habits are what causes us to get illnesses and die prematurely. Functional medicine and anti-aging medicine are at the frontier of modern medicine. These specialties are teaching us how to stay well and age gracefully. For decades conventional medicine has treated only symptoms, but not the causes of diseases. But this has not changed the mortality rates of heart attacks and cancer. Smoking, a body mass index above 25.0, excessive alcohol intake, exercising less than 30 minutes of exercise per day and an unhealthy diet are causes that make us sick. These bad lifestyle factors cause chronic inflammation in our system. They are the real cause of heart attacks, strokes, cancer and diabetes, the major killer diseases that prevent healthy aging.

Facing bad lifestyle habits

Bad lifestyle habits cause chronic inflammation. T he C-reactive protein blood test can measure the degree of inflammation that is present. A fasting insulin level can detect whether a person is in danger of developing diabetes and improved lifestyle habits can prevent this from happening. Men can add 12 years and women 14 years of healthy life by eliminating bad lifestyle habits. By eliminating chronic inflammation our new life expectancy, which is 79 to 80 years, now can reach 92 to 94 years. It is up to you how healthy you stay and whether or not you age gracefully.

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May
02
2020

The Quality of Food is Important

Many authors wrote books about food; the quality of food is important. Recently I came across a book review regarding the book “The Way We Eat Now” by Bee Wilson. In the March 2020 edition of the health magazine “LifeExtension” Laurie Mathena interviewed Bee Wilson about her book.

Bee Wilson explained that there is a distinct history about the production of food throughout the centuries. She described 5 phases.

  1. During the hunter/gatherer time people were eating a low-fat diet with berries, wild greens and wild animals.
  2. Stage two began around 20,000 BC. It was the agricultural age with a switch to cereals. At that time the population experienced rapid growth.

More stages

  1. Only a couple of centuries ago, agriculture made progress with crop rotation and by adding fertilizers. This led to a more varied diet. People ate more vegetables, less starchy food and animal protein.
  2. After the Second World War there was a major food transition. Processed food was introduced. People started eating more fat, meat, sugar and a lot less fiber. We are now experiencing a phenomenon that we are simultaneously overfed, but undernourished. We get too many calories, but our diet is poor in nutrients. This type of diet causes obesity and degenerative type illnesses.
  3. Stage 5 involves people abandoning junk food and eating more vegetables and fruit again. The more knowledgeable people are about the link between a good diet and health, the healthier people eat. This stage requires governments and other organizations to do their part in assisting people to make that food transition.

Food labeling changes in Chile

Here is one example of how governments can make a difference. This happened in Chile. Chile used to have the highest consumption of sugary beverages in the world. Prior to 2016 the average consumer in Chile bought more than 50% of the food as ultra-processed. This resulted in Chile having the second highest obesity rate after Mexico. The government of Chile decided in 2014 to introduce very simple labels for every food item. The government of Chile demanded that all the foods with too much sugar, high saturated fat, food high in salt and high in calories had proper labels. These labels are simple, hexagonal warning labels.

Warning labels

For instance, if a food product had too much salt in it, it would say in the hexagonal label: “Warning: high in salt”. As the labels had the effect of lowering sales, the food companies reformulated their products very quickly to stay under the threshold triggering the food warning. In 2016 Chile also decided to tax unhealthy foods higher. The government taxed sugar-sweetened colas with an 18% extra tax. Schools had to abandon junk foods sales.

Quality of food

When you start cutting out junk food and other processed foods, the quality of your food intake is improving. Eat more vegetables, and fruit. Eat wild salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Do not consume vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grape-seed oil. They all contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and they convert mainly into energy. But the problem is that our western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can convert into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other hand.

The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is important

In the past a healthy ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 was 4:1 or less. The average American now eats food with 16-times the amount of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. This is an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 16:1. No wonder people get sick with degenerative diseases.

Brain health maintained by eating enough omega-3 fatty acids

Here is a study that looked at brain structure using MRI scans. 3660 participants aged 65 received MRI brain scans. The researchers recorded their food intake with questionnaires. They rescanned 2313 of these individuals 5 years later. The group highest in omega-3 consumption was compared to the group with the lowest omega-3 consumption. Blood tests were also done both initially and 5 years later to verify the omega-3 intake. The researchers found that the higher omega-3 group had less subclinical infarcts and the white matter of the brain was of a better grade. They concluded that fish consumption, the major source of omega-3 fatty acids, had a beneficial effect on brain health later in life, preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Cook your own food, do not eat out frequently

When you cook your own food, you can choose the right foods as you shop. Stay away from the “dirty dozen”, which is poisoned with insecticides, herbicides or pesticides. Instead you can buy organic foods that have not been sprayed with toxic substances. When you eat out, you have no choice about what you eat. Food in restaurants also contains food preservatives that are not labeled in North America, but that would be labeled in restaurant menus in Europe. In addition, food in restaurants often contains too much salt, too much sugar and the wrong oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are much cheaper than olive oil, and as a result this is what the chef uses.

Transition from stage 4 to stage 5

When you want to transition from stage 4 to stage 5 regarding your food composition you are swimming against the stream of establishment. At this point you are more or less alone when you want to abandon French fries, processed food bars, hamburgers and sugary soft drinks. But the more you eat at home, the more you take out your lunch box with food prepared at home, the more you are winning the war against convenience foods. It is what you put into your mouth, which is the fuel for your body. Don’t compromise regarding the quality of your food!

The Quality of Food is Important

The Quality of Food is Important

Conclusion

The quality of food is important. We have been inundated by ads from the food industry that we should eat fast foods (hamburgers, French fries), processed foods like power bars and drink sugary drinks. We have met the entire lineup on television! But it is best to buy basic foods and prepare all your food from scratch. Be careful that you avoid the “dirty dozen” foods. If you want to eat these, buy the organic food versions. This way you avoid pesticides and other poisons. Stick to extra virgin olive oil as a fat source and avoid vegetable oils. Soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grape-seed oil contain a lot of omega-6 fatty oils.

Inflammation caused by vegetable oils

These cause inflammation in your blood vessels and joints. The end result are heart attacks, strokes and arthritis. I also eat a lot of wild salmon and other seafoods, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, I take two capsules of molecularly distilled fish oil in the morning and at night. Eat more vegetables and fruit. You are now paying attention to the fact that the quality of food is important.

Here is a link to the book by Bee Wilson; “The Way We Eat Now”.

Apr
18
2020

Changes of Metabolism by Inflammation

Dr. James LaValle gave a presentation about changes of metabolism by inflammation in Las Vegas. I listened to this lecture on Dec. 15, 2020. The 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas took place from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. His original title was: “Innovations in Metabolism and Metaflammation”. This talk was complex and as a result it may not be easy reading. But it shows how various factors can affect our metabolism and our life expectancy.

In the first place he understands “metabolism” as all of the chemical reactions together that make you feel the way you feel today. In the same way metabolism is the chemistry that drives you toward future health. It is equally important to note that disregulation of your metabolism occurs from global metabolic inflammatory signalling. As has been noted he called this “metaflammation” (inflammation affecting your metabolism).

Dr. LaValle said that understanding disruptors of your metabolism can lead to renew your health on a cellular level. The key to achieve this is to remove inflammatory signals.

Factors that accelerate aging and damage your metabolism

It is important to realize that several factors interfere with the normal aging process. Oxidative stress and inflammation are major factors. But hormone disbalance and increased blood sugar values and insulin resistance can also contribute to accelerated aging and damage your metabolism. Certainly, with a disturbance of the immune balance, autoimmune reactions can take place, which also does not help. In addition, pollutants from the environment derange the metabolism due to heavy metals that block important enzymatic reactions. In the minority there are also genetic factors that can interfere with a normal metabolism.

Many of the metabolic changes can lead to chronic inflammation. One source of inflammation can be lipopolysaccharides that stimulate the immune system to start an inflammatory process.

Many conditions are associated with inflammation such as diabetes, obesity, stress, the SAD diet (standard American diet), and liver or kidney damage.

How Metaflammation is developing

Metaflammation can start in the gut with microbiota alterations. The wrong types of bacteria can release lipopolysaccharides, and low grade endotoxemia develops. With obesity inflammatory kinins start circulating in the body. Stress can activate inflammatory substances in the brain and the rest of the body. Major contributors to inflammation in the body come from faulty diets. The Western diet contains too much sugar and refined carbs; it is too high in trans fats and saturated fats. It contains too many artificial additives, preservatives, salt, sweeteners and dyes. And it is too low in nutrients, complex carbs and fiber.

More problems with metaflammation

Kidney and liver illness can contribute to metaflammation. Several diseases come from chronic inflammation, like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, depression, cancer, dementia, osteoporosis and anemia. Metaflammation alters the methylation patterns, which can slow down your metabolism. Increased blood lipids and chronic inflammation of the blood vessels lead to cardiovascular problems. The liver and kidneys are the major detoxification organs, and their disease leads to more metaflammation. Metaflammation also leads to hormone disbalances, sleep disorders and dysfunction of the immune system. The brain reacts to metaflammation with cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders. Muscle loss (sarcopenia) is another issue, so is osteoporosis. Finally, chronic metaflammation can cause cancer.

Major causes of metaflammation

The three major causes of metaflammation are changes of the gut microbiome, obesity and chronic stress. When the gut bacteria change because of a Western diet, the wrong bacteria release lipopolysaccharides that are absorbed into the blood. The gut barrier is breaking down and a low grade endotoxemia develops. With obesity adipokines, which are inflammatory substances secreted by the fatty tissue, circulate in the blood. Chronic stress activates inflammation in the brain and in the body.

Two major conditions are common with metaflammation: hyperlipidemia (high fat levels in the blood) and hyperglycemia. Both of these conditions change the metabolism and lead to cardiovascular disease (hyperlipidemia) or to type 2 diabetes (hyperglycemia). Both of these metabolic changes lead to one or more of the conditions mentioned above, accelerate the aging process and lead to premature deaths.

Interaction of various organ systems can cause metaflammation

Dr. LaValle stated that it is vital that your hormones stay balanced. With chronic stress cortisol production is high. This causes increased insulin production, reduced thyroid hormone and lowered serotonin and melatonin production in the brain. It also leads to autoimmune antibodies from the immune system and decreased DHEA production in the adrenal glands. In addition, growth hormone production and gonadotropin hormones are slowing down. We already heard that cortisol levels are up. The end result of these hormone changes is that the blood pressure is up and abdominal visceral obesity develops. The brain shows cognitive decline, with memory loss as a result. The bones show osteopenia, osteoporosis and fractures. The muscles shrink due to sarcopenia, frailty is very common. Heart attacks and strokes will develop after many years. The immune system is weak and infections may flare up rapidly. There are also higher death rates with flus.

Other mechanism for pathological changes with hormone disbalances

When Insulin is elevated, inflammatory markers are found in the bloodstream. This elevates the C-reactive protein and leads to damage of the lining of the blood vessels in the body. A combination of insulin resistance and enhanced atherosclerosis increases the danger for heart attacks or strokes significantly.

There is a triangle interaction between the thyroid, the pancreas and the adrenals. Normally the following occurs with normal function. The thyroid increases the metabolism, protein synthesis and the activity of the central nervous system. The pancreas through insulin converts glucose to glycogen in the liver. It also facilitates glucose uptake by body cells. The adrenal hormones are anti-inflammatory, regulate protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and contribute to energy production.

Change of thyroid/pancreas/adrenals triangle when cortisol is elevated

When cortisol is elevated the balance of the thyroid/pancreas/adrenals’ triangle is severely disturbed. Cortisol is high, the T4 to T3 conversion is limited and, in the brain, there is hippocampus atrophy with memory loss and brain fog. The immune system will change with production of inflammatory kinins (IL-6 and TNF alpha). Insulin sensitivity is down, sugar craving up and weight gain develops (central obesity).

Change of thyroid/pancreas/adrenals triangle when the thyroid is depressed

The thyroid activity can be lower because of autoimmune antibodies (Hashimoto’s disease) or because of hypothyroidism developing in older age. This leads to decreased pregnenolone synthesis from cholesterol. As pregnenolone is the precursor for all the steroid hormones, the metabolism slows down profoundly. Mentally there is depressed cognition, memory and mood. The cardiovascular system shows reduced function. In the gut there is reduced gastric motility. The mitochondria, which are tiny energy packages in each cell, are reduced in number, which causes a loss of energy. There is increased oxidative stress, increased lactic acid production and decreased insulin sensitivity.

Cardiovascular disease not just a matter of high cholesterol

Dr. LaValle stressed that a heart attack or stroke is not just a matter of elevated cholesterol. Instead we are looking at a complicated interaction between hypothyroidism, diabetic constellation and inflammatory gut condition. The inflammatory leaky gut syndrome causes autoimmune macrophages and Hashimoto’s disease. The end result is hypothyroidism. The inflammatory kinins (TNF-alpha, IL-6) affect the lining of the blood vessels, which facilitates the development of strokes and heart attacks. You see from this that cardiovascular disease development is a multifactorial process.

Microbiome disruption from drugs

Drugs affecting the intestinal flora are antibiotics, corticosteroids, opioids, antipsychotics, statins, acid suppressing drugs like protein pump inhibitors (PPI’s) and H2-blockers. Other factors are: high sugar intake, pesticides in food, bactericidal chemicals in drinking water, metformin, heavy metals and alcohol overconsumption. Chronic stomach infection with H. pylori, stress and allergies can also interfere with the gut microbiome.

The microbiome disruption affects all facets of metabolism. This means that there can be inhibition of nutrient absorption and this may affect the gut/immune/brain axis. There are negative effects on blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. A disturbance of the sleep pattern may be present. A significant effect on the hormonal balance can occur (thyroid hormones, sex hormones and appetite related hormones). When liver and kidney functions slow down, there is interference of body detoxification.

Dr. LaValle talked more about details regarding the gut-brain-immune pathology. I will not comment on this any further.

Changes of Metabolism by Inflammation

Changes of Metabolism by Inflammation

Conclusion

Dr. LaValle gave an overview in a lecture regarding changes of metabolism by inflammation. This took place at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019.

This article is complex and contains a lot of detail, but there is one simple truth: oxidative stress and inflammation are major factors that influence our health on many parameters and lead to a list of illnesses. They lead to hormone disbalance and increased blood sugars and insulin resistance, which can also contribute to accelerated aging and damage of your metabolism. Dr. LaValle explained how high cortisol from chronic stress can lead to low thyroid hormones and in the brain, there is hippocampus atrophy with memory loss and brain fog. With alterations of the immune system there is production of inflammatory kinins (IL-6 and TNF alpha). Insulin sensitivity is down, sugar craving up and weight gain develops (central obesity). It does not stop there! We put our hope in medications, but the sad truth is that there are

Drugs that change the gut biome

Many drugs that are common also change the gut biome with resulting increased permeability of the gut wall (leaky gut syndrome). This overstimulates the immune system and leads to autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Whenever there is an injury to the gut barrier, the blood brain barrier is following suit. This is how brain disease can develop as a result of a change in the gut biome. Impaired cognition, memory and mood can result from this. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the worst conditions that may be related to a combination of gut inflammation, chronic stress and inflammatory kinins.

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Mar
28
2020

Fasting Can Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

Dr. Joel Kahn gave a lecture in Las Vegas in which he explained that fasting can prevent cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Kahn is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. He spoke at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas. The conference took place from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019.

According to the CDC cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are hitting the middle age adults in large numbers. Part of the problem is obesity and diabetes, both of which cause an increase of cardiovascular diseases. Heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other related cardiovascular conditions caused 2.2 million hospitalizations in the US in 2016. This resulted in 415,000 deaths and a health care cost of $32.7 billion.

Fasting can improve the risk for cardiovascular disease

Dr. Kahn asked whether fasting can reduce the aging pathways, build up resilience and protect the heart from aging and heart disease. In a few words: eat less, live more! He showed with slides that fasting can indeed do that. One heart catheterization study showed that a fasting group had only 64% coronary artery disease compared to a non-fasting control group with 76%.

Another study showed that fasting patients had only 10.3% diabetes compared to controls with 22.0%. With heart catheterization 63.2% of fasting patients had cardiovascular disease while 75.0% of non-fasting control patients did have lesions in their coronary arteries.

Animal experiments confirmed that fasting had beneficial effects on heart health as well. In rats, researchers showed that fasting reduced infarct size and inflammation. It also preserved left ventricular function. With mice fasting produced less inflammatory response and less tissue damage.

Alternate day fasting shows benefit in clinical human trial

A 2019 publication reported about a 4-week randomized clinical trial on 60 healthy non-obese human subjects. The effect of alternate day fasting was compared to controls. On average there was a 37% calorie reduction in the alternate fasting group. The fasting group had improved fat mass, improved fat-to-lean ratio and cardiovascular markers. There was a reduction of age-associated inflammatory markers and low-density lipoprotein.

Fasting mimicking diet

A newer form of fasting is the fasting mimicking diet (FMD), which was invented and researched in depth by Dr. Valter Longo. Both animal experiments as well as human trials have shown that the FMD is safe and effective. It can be followed 5 days out of every month and will lead to some weight loss, an increase of telomeres, stem cells and lowered inflammatory markers.

My own experience with the fasting mimicking diet

My wife and I heard about the FMD from Dr. Longo when he spoke about it at the 2017 Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas. We immediately started the FMD in December of 2017 and have done it every month for 5 days since. But we never ordered the expensive meal kit. Instead, we calculated calories and use regular food to do the calorie-restricted diet. We eat 600 to 700 calories every day during the FMD days. In between we have unrestricted calories, but we noticed that we are more careful about our meal choices. I find that the result of the FMD is more energy, an improved sleep pattern and an easier way to keep my body-mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Here is a description of the effects of the FMD.

Use of FMD in high-risk patients

Dr. Khan said that the FMD is an ideal diet that the high-risk population of the US should use. 34% of the US population has a compromised metabolic condition. They are obese and at a high risk to develop diabetes. But on the FMD they gradually lose abdominal obesity, lower their cholesterol and triglycerides levels, which otherwise causes a high risk for heart attacks and strokes. The fasting blood sugar is lowering reducing the risk to get diabetes. The systolic and diastolic blood pressure comes down. And the C-reactive protein, which is a general inflammatory marker, becomes lower.

In non-obese patients the main effect of the FMD is a stimulation of stem cell release and telomere elongation. This postpones the aging process and with it delays the onset of cardiovascular diseases.

Fasting Can Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

Fasting Can Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

Conclusion

Dr. Joel Kahn gave a lecture at a Las Vegas conference that fasting can prevent cardiovascular diseases. He compared alternate day fasting with the fasting mimicking diet (FMD). The FMD was more effective in reducing danger markers, abdominal girth measurements and blood markers of cardiovascular diseases. Ultimately, he said, it was easier to follow an FMD where you only reduce your calorie intake to 600 to 700 calories per day for 5 days in one month. In those who are wanting to do this just for good health, the FMD increases stem cells and elongates telomeres. This postpones the aging process and keeps a person younger for longer. At the same time, it delays the onset of cardiovascular diseases.

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