Aug
21
2021

When Stress Becomes Abnormal

Recently CNN published an article that dealt about when stress becomes abnormal.

We all have experienced stress. It makes our heart beat faster and our breathing speeds up as well. But when the stressful situation is over, stress usually subsides also. Some people though have so much stress in their lives that they never completely recover from any stressful situation. They develop chronic stress, which can lead to physical illnesses or mental disease. I have previously written about “stress drives our lives”. In the following I am reprinting the next 5 paragraphs.

Heart attacks and strokes when stress becomes abnormal

In a 2015 Lancet study 603,838 men and women who worked long hours were followed for an average time of about 8 years with respect to heart disease or strokes. All of the subjects were free of heart attacks and strokes when they entered into the study. There was a total of 13% more heart attacks in those who worked extra hours in comparison to those who worked 40 hours per week or less. With respect to strokes there were 33% more strokes in those who worked long hours. Researchers noted a dose-response curve for strokes in groups with various workloads. Compared to standard working hours there were 10% additional strokes for 41-48 working hours, 27% for 49-54 working hours and 33% for 55 or more working hours per week.

Stress drives some of us to substance abuse

In order to cope with stress many of us “treat” daily stress with alcohol. It makes you feel good subjectively, but it can raise your blood pressure causing heart attacks and strokes down the road. A low dose of alcohol may be healthy, but medium and high doses are detrimental to your health.

Next, many people still smoke, although scientists have proven long time ago that it is bad for your health. It can cause heart attacks, various cancers and circulatory problems leading to leg amputations.

Overeating is another common problem. Comfort food relieves stress, but it causes us to put on extra pounds. As you know it is easier to put weight on than to take it off. Being overweight or being obese has its own problems: arthritis in the hips and knees makes walking more difficult. The metabolic syndrome sets in, which is a characteristic metabolic change causing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers. The more weight you carry, the less likely you are to exercise. This can lead to further deterioration of your health.

Diabetes can occur when stress becomes abnormal

Stress causes too much cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands. This raises blood sugar, and when chronic can cause diabetes. In addition, unhealthy eating habits in an attempt to cope with stress can cause weight gain. Insulin resistance causes high blood sugars and diabetes.

Korean immigrant study

In a 2012 California study 148 adult Korean immigrants were examined. They all had elevated blood sugars confirming the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. They had an elevated waist/hip ratio.

A high percentage of the study subjects had risk factors for type 2 diabetes. This included being overweight or obese and having high blood glucose readings. 66% of them said that they were feeling stressed, 51% reported feeling anxious, 38% said they were feeling restless, 30% felt nervous and 3% said they were feeling hopeless. It is easy to see the connection between stress and disease!

Australian study showed that anxiety can cause diabetes

An Australian long-term follow-up study computed risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Stress was a major contributor to diabetes.

A 30-day episode of any anxiety disorder had a 1.53-fold risk to cause diabetes. A depressive disorder had a 1.37-fold risk to cause diabetes and posttraumatic stress disorder had a risk of 1.42-fold to cause diabetes.

Infertility may develop when stress becomes abnormal

Stress changes hormones in women causing ovulation problems and infertility. 1 in 8 couples in America have problems getting pregnant. Physicians identified stress as at least one of  the contributing factors. But in men stress can also reduce sperm count and semen quality as this study describes.

Alzheimer’s disease and stress

2010 study from Gothenburg University, Sweden examined 1462 woman aged 38-60 and followed them for 35 years.

Psychologists assessed the stress score in 1968,1974 and 1980. 161 females developed dementia (105 Alzheimer’s disease, 40 vascular dementia and 16 other dementias). The risk of dementia was higher in those women who had frequent/constant stress in the past. Women who had stress on one, two or three examinations suffered from higher dementia rates later in life. Researchers compared this to a group of women who did not have any significant stress. Specifically, dementia rates were 10% higher after one stressful episode, 73% higher after two stressful episodes and 151% higher after three stressful episodes.

Hormone system affected by stress

I have written an article before about how stress affects our hormone system.

I am reprinting excerpts from this here (the next 4 paragraphs).

Dr. Andrew Heyman gave a talk about how stress affects our hormone system. He presented his talk at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. It was entitled “Understanding the Stress, Thyroid, Hormone Connections & Prioritizing Systems”.

Dr. Heyman emphasized in particular that there is a triad of hormonal connections that is important to remember: the thyroid hormones, the stress hormones (adrenal glands) and the pancreas (insulin production). It seems like we need a balance of these hormones for optimal energy production and circulation. Under stress our sugar metabolism can markedly derail, we develop obesity and fatigue. But when balanced, we experience vitality and wellbeing.

Metabolic activation pathways

Dr. Heyman projected a slide that showed the metabolic activation pathways. Likewise, he stated that a number of different factors could influence the hormone system:

  • Diet: trans fats, sugar, too many carbs, food allergies.
  • Drugs: drug-induced nutrient depletion (over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs).
  • Physical exercise: frequency and type matters.
  • Environmental exposure: chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, plastics, molds, and pollens.
  • Stress: physical stress, psychogenic stress.
  • Genetics: methylene-tetra-hydro-folate reductase enzyme deficiency (MTHFR mutation), APOE genes, lack of vitamin D
  • Disease: past or present conditions, active disease or syndromes.

Target areas within your system

The target areas in your system are the

  • Pancreas, where blood sugar can rise because of insulin resistance. In particular, too much insulin production causes inflammation, hormone disbalances, kidney damage, and hardening of the arteries through plaque formation.
  • Thyroid gland, which depends on TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) for activation. Autoantibodies can also affect it negatively.
  • Brain: decrease in serotonin resulting in anxiety, depression and food cravings; decreased melatonin causing sleep disturbances; increased ghrelin and decreased leptin secretion leading to overeating and obesity.

Other target areas of stress

  • Liver/kidneys: both of these organs are important for detoxification; the liver produces thyroid binding globulin, which when increased can lower the free thyroid hormones.
  • Immune system (gut, lymph glands): the Peyer’s patches in the gut mucosa produce a large portion of the immune cells; lymph glands, the bone marrow and the spleen supply the rest. A leaky gut syndrome can affect the whole body, in addition causing inflammation and autoimmune reactions.
  • Hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal glands: this is the main axis of the stress reaction. A brain under stress activates the hypothalamus. It sends a cascade of activating hormones via the pituitary gland and likewise activates the adrenal glands. Finally, this leads to cortisol overproduction, and release of epinephrine and norepinephrine from the center of the adrenal glands. High blood pressure, anxiety, heart palpitations, arrhythmias and more can finally develop from this.

Treatment suggestions to cope with stress

There are thyroid supplements that can support the function of the thyroid gland. Similarly, there are several supplements to support the adrenal glands.
Chromium, vitamin D, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, fish oil and others are useful to support the pancreas. Relaxation methods like self-hypnosis, meditation, yoga, Tai-Chi and others are very useful to counter stress. If you can change your job to evade stress, take the opportunity and find another job with less stress. See a health professional and discuss what you can do to become more stress-resistant. If you are overweight or obese, see a dietitian to help you lose weight. Aerobic exercises like running for 30 minutes on a treadmill can help reduce stress. Various relaxation methods mentioned earlier also can counter stress. They help you to block out worrying about the past and the future, but instead focus on what is positive in the present.

When Stress Becomes Abnormal

When Stress Becomes Abnormal

Conclusion

I have described what stress can do to your body. It can give you heart attacks and strokes. Stress in some people can lead to substance abuse. It can cause diabetes, infertility and even Alzheimer’s disease. I described how thyroid hormones, insulin and brain hormones are interconnected and suffer with stress. Other factors can make the effects of stress worse or better as I discussed in detail. Treatment of stress-induced conditions requires a combination of preventative steps and medical therapies. Ignoring stress is not an option as this could lead to premature death. Managing stress, as mentioned before, and keeping it to a minimum is the answer.

Jan
09
2021

Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Notably, the January 2021 issue of the Life Extension magazine informs you that melatonin is more than a sleeping aid. It contains an interview between Dr. Roman Rozencwaig and a Life Extension (LE) magazine reporter. It must be remembered that Dr. Rozencwaig dedicated much of his career to the healing effects of melatonin. Another keypoint is that in 1987 Dr. Rozencwaig published a paper together with two other researchers. Specifically, it showed that melatonin production by the pineal gland declines in older age. Markedly, they stated that this is the reason why people age and why diseases of aging develop. Another key point is that Dr. Rozencwaig also stated that taking oral melatonin can promote a healthier life.

Melatonin deficiency causing aging and various illnesses

With the aging process the pineal gland calcifies and melatonin production is steadily declining. Surely, along with this is a deterioration of the circadian hormone rhythm. Meanwhile, the neuroendocrine system in the brain gets disorganized. Accordingly, this causes various diseases to occur. To emphasize, Dr. Rozencwaig says that a proper balance between melatonin and neurotransmitters is what we need to maintain health and longevity. As a result, a daily intake of melatonin supports healthy aging and longevity.

The many clinical effects of melatonin

Oral melatonin tablets help you to fall asleep easier, particularly the population that is older than 60 years.

But besides that, melatonin has many other clinical effects.

  • Melatonin improves immunity, which improves resistance against infections. It helps also in cancer prevention
  • Melatonin maintains the circadian hormone rhythm by synchronizing pituitary and hypothalamic hormone production
  • It protects the brain and may prevent Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and others
  • Melatonin modulates anti-inflammatory cytokinins in different diseases

Dr. Rozencwaig mentioned that melatonin slows down the aging process. There are multiple intertwining reasons for this. 

Melatonin’s actions against the aging process 

  • Melatonin regulates gene expression. This means that some signs and symptoms of aging can be reversed through genetic switches
  • Because melatonin regulates the immune response, the body is more protected against viral, bacterial and parasitic infections
  • Melatonin helps to overcome chronic inflammation that produces cytokines
  • Melatonin is also liver-protective through stimulation of an enzyme (AMPK). This enzyme regulates cellular metabolism.
  • There are other processes that melatonin is involved in: energy metabolism by protection and restoration of mitochondria.
  • Melatonin protects against osteoporosis by balancing and regulating bone formation versus bone loss.

More actions of melatonin

  • An important function of melatonin is the stimulation of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • Melatonin regulates sirtuins, which are proteins that maintain cellular health. They protect you from obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and strokes, dementia and more
  • As already mentioned, melatonin is a neuroprotective agent and may prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Melatonin stimulates apoptosis of cancer cells.
  • Oral health and melatonin are related. Melatonin suppresses herpes infections and periodontal disease. Melatonin prevents oral cancers to a certain degree. In addition, dental implants survive better when melatonin is present in saliva.

Prevention of cognitive decline

Dr. Rozencwaig mentioned that melatonin stops much of the cognitive decline of aging. To achieve this the following processes take place.

  1. Melatonin improves the sleeping pattern and increases the amount of REM sleep.
  2. During sleep melatonin removes toxic amyloid and tau proteins. We know that with Alzheimer’s disease these are the proteins that accumulate in the brain.
  3. Melatonin improves myelination of white matter in the brain. This prevents brain atrophy of old age.
  4. The brain is metabolically very active and produces toxic free radicals. But melatonin is a strong antioxidant dealing with free radicals. Melatonin can cross the blood brain barrier and stimulates enzyme production to eliminate toxic reactive oxygen species.
  5. Chronic inflammation also increases with age, but melatonin deals with this condition in the brain.
  6. Here are 3 subtypes of melatonin receptors. The body integrates the multitude of actions of melatonin with the help of these receptors.
Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Conclusion

Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that has many other useful protective qualities as explained. The body integrates various functions like anti-aging, anti-free radical activity, neuroprotection in the brain and more. Melatonin even synchronizes pituitary and hypothalamic hormone production. This helps to integrate the effect of melatonin, which benefits the body in many ways. Melatonin prevents Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, strokes and dementia. Melatonin production deteriorates from the age of about 60 onwards. It is important to supplement with melatonin at nighttime from that age on. Usually, you only need small amounts of melatonin, between 1mg and 3 mg at bedtime. This prevents most of the serious diseases of old age, stimulates your immune system and lets you age gracefully.

Dec
26
2020

Hormones Play an Important Role in Survival from Covid-19

I am describing here that hormones play an important role in survival from Covid-19. There are two publications that illustrate that point.

Estrogens protect women against Covid-19

A study from Dec. 4, 2020 covering 17 countries and involving nearly 70,000 women discovered these principal findings.

  • Women aged 20 to 50 have moderately higher Covid-19 infection rates than men
  • In all of the age groups men have higher mortality rates than women
  • Beyond the age of 50 the fatality rate from Covid-19 is 50% higher in men than that of women
  • Postmenopausal women above the age of 50 and on estradiol supplementation had 50% less mortality from Covid-19 than women without estradiol supplementation

The researchers said about the study: “In a nutshell, it’s likely that the apparently protective effects of 17β-estradiol, a naturally occurring, abundant female hormone, relate to a key property of this molecule: it attenuates the so-called “cytokine storm” that’s thought to underlie much of the cellular-scale and organ/tissue-level damage wrought by a SARS-CoV-2 infection, via dysregulation of a patient’s immune response.”

Men need enough testosterone to fight Covid-19

Another study from September 17, 2020 pointed out that males have much worse outcomes with Covid-19 than females. Men are affected by Covid-19 twice as often as females and they experience a much more severe course with a higher mortality. The authors also point out that there is a direct correlation between lower serum testosterone levels in men and inflammation severity by cytokines and poor clinical outcomes. The decline in total and free testosterone in aging men leads to serious pulmonary complications and the need to treat the patient in the ICU. The Covid-19 coronavirus utilizes Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme II (ACE2) for entry into the host cell. A male requires testosterone for ACE2 expression. Lower testosterone causes higher mortality in men. In contrast, if testosterone in a male is too high, blood clots can form in the circulatory system, which often lead to complications and deaths in patients with Covid-19.

Vitamin D levels and course of Covid-19

There are three major effects that vitamin D has.

  1. A strengthening of the epithelial barrier not allowing the coronavirus to penetrate into the lung tissue as easily.
  2. Release of defensins and cathelicidin, two crucial antiviral polypeptides, that eradicate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the system.
  3. Interruption of the “cytokine storm”, an overwhelming inflammation which is responsible for viral pneumonia to develop. Without the cytokine storm there is no damage to the lungs, and people do not need treatment in the ICU. This is particularly important for people above the age of 60 and for people with pre-existing diseases.

Similarly, with the stabilizing effect of vitamin D regarding the immune function more severe forms of Covid-19 can turn into less severe forms with a better outcome.

Discussion

Research showed that in women estrogen has a modifying effect on the course of Covid-19. In males it is testosterone that leads to an improved course of Covid-19. Both sexes require adequate doses of vitamin D, which helps to strengthen the epithelial barrier. In addition, enough vitamin D releases defensins and cathelicidin, two crucial antiviral polypeptides that eradicate any virus in the system. Vitamin D also interrupts the “cytokine storm”, an overwhelming inflammation, which is responsible for viral pneumonia to develop. All of these factors together modify the course of Covid-19 and improve the probability of survival from this otherwise serious viral illness.

Hormones Play an Important Role in Survival from Covid-19

Hormones Play an Important Role in Survival from Covid-19

Conclusion

Two lines of research showed that both women and men do better with Covid-19 when their hormone levels are either adequate or are substituted to normal levels. Women in menopause taking estradiol for postmenopausal symptoms had 50% less mortality from Covid-19. Men who were testosterone deficient and were put on testosterone supplementation do better with respect to Covid-19. In aging men total and free testosterone decline and serious pulmonary complications occur with a need to treat the patient in the ICU. On top of hormones both men and women benefit from high doses of vitamin D, which strengthens the epithelial barrier. Vitamin D also releases defensins and cathelicidin, two crucial antiviral polypeptides that fights the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly. In addition, vitamin D interrupts the “cytokine storm”, an overwhelming inflammation which causes the viral pneumonia. Taken together the hormones and vitamin D can improve the outcome of Covid-19 significantly.

This text includes part of this blog.

Incoming search terms:

Oct
24
2020

Irregular Periods are Linked to Premature Deaths

A review in CNN describes that irregular periods are linked to premature deaths. This review is based on the original publication in the British Medical Journal published on September 30, 2020.

Essentially, the researchers followed 79,505 premenopausal women without a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes for 24 years. The researchers recorded 1975 premature deaths. The definition for a premature death was someone dying before the age of 70. There were three age groups that the researchers followed separately for 24 years.

  • ages 14-17 years
  • 18-22 years
  • 29-46 years

The most common causes of death were 894 from cancer and deaths from 172 strokes and heart attacks.

Death rates after 24 years for the three subclasses just mentioned

The researchers noted that there were differences in survival for different age groups. But there were also differences in survival for irregular periods versus prolonged intervals between periods. Crude mortality rates for 1000 person years of follow-up for women with normal versus irregular periods were as follows.

Normal periods                                  Irregular periods

14-17 age :  1.05                                            14-17 age:    1.0

18-22 age:  1.23                                            18-22 age:    1.37

29-46 age:  1.0                                              29-46 age:    1.68

Women with a cycle length of 40 days or more had a higher mortality rate. The researchers compared this to women with a normal cycle length (26-31 days). Here are the data in detail for two age groups at the outset of the study.

Women with a cycle length of 40 days or more                 

Age 18-22:    1.34

Age 29-46:    1.40

Heart attacks and strokes followed these death statistics closest.

Discussion

The researchers concluded that teenagers and women in their middle-age were at the highest risk. This risk was for premature mortality, if they had irregular periods or a cycle length of 40 days or more. There was also an association between irregular periods and a prolonged cycle length and type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and coronary heart disease. In addition, mental health problems were also related, the study said.

Dr. Adam Balen, a professor of reproductive Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals in the UK said: “Young women with irregular periods need a thorough assessment not only of their hormones and metabolism, but also of their lifestyle so that they can be advised about steps that they can take which might enhance their overall health”.

Too much estradiol in women and men can cause cancer

In this context it is interesting that other studies have shown that unopposed estradiol may be the culprit for both irregular periods and larger intervals between periods. When estrogen is elevated in females, irregular periods can result. Unopposed estradiol can cause breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

In males who also have a small amount of estrogen in their blood, it is important that a larger amount of testosterone balances the two hormones. Otherwise there is a risk of prostate cancer.

In addition, cardiovascular disease has been described as a side effect of standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women with synthetic hormones.

The good news is that treatment with bioidentical hormones can treat these abnormal periods. This eliminates premature mortality and in many cases prolongs life.

"<yoastmark

Conclusion

Researchers followed 79,505 premenopausal women without a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes for 24 years. They found that there is a linkage between irregular periods and premature deaths. There were three age groups that the researchers followed. Some of them suffered from irregular periods and others had periods that were 40 days or longer apart. The researchers recorded the premature mortalities. At an age of 29-46 there was a 68% higher mortality in women with irregular periods. The scientists compared this to women who had regular periods. In addition, women aged 29-46 with a cycle length of 40 days or more had a 40% higher mortality.

Estrogen dominance could explain premature deaths

The researchers compared this to women with a normal cycle length. It is possible that women who died prematurely were having too much estrogen in their system, which can produce cardiovascular disease and cancer of the breast, uterus and ovary. Further studies need to clarify the mechanism behind irregular periods and why a cycle length of 40 days or more causes mortality.

Oct
10
2020

Medical Myths about Aging

Medical myths about aging are easy to debunk. Many people believe that it is inevitable that they become disabled as they age, their lives become unbearable, without passion, boring and full of pain. Some aspects of your health may decline with age, none of the myths discussed below is inevitably happening in everyone. Studies showed that a positive outlook on aging and life in general will help you to live longer and stay healthier.  Here I discuss 7 common myths about aging.

Myth 1: Everyone will experience physical deterioration

It is common for people to experience reduced muscle strength, increased blood pressure, excessive fat accumulation and osteoporosis. A study with 148 older patients showed that an expectation of reduced fitness in older age actually resulted in less physical activity when older age arrived.

But you can maintain good cardiovascular function and good muscle strength with a regular exercise program.  This study showed that men and women can reduce mortality by exercising regularly, even in older age.

Myth 2: Older adults cannot exercise

There are several reasons why older people stop exercising or are afraid to start exercising. People use the excuse of their arthritis getting worse from exercise. But studies showed the opposite: joint function improves and joint pains are getting better with exercise. Your muscles get stronger and you are less likely to fall. Your heart and lungs are improving their functions and your mentation improves. Exercise increases the HDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Myth 3: As we age, we need less sleep

For many years there was the notion that older people need less sleep. What was not known then was that people above the age of 60 have no appreciable secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland. But when they replace their melatonin deficiency by taking a nighttime dose of 3 mg at bedtime, they will sleep better and longer. They may need a second dose of melatonin in the middle of the night. We need 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night for our diurnal hormone rhythm.

This will also slow down our aging clock.

Myth 4: Your brain slows as you age

Dementia is common when you get older. 13.9% have it at age 71 and older. 37.4% have dementia over the age of 90. But the majority, namely 86.1% in the 71+ age group and 62.6% above the age of 90 do not have dementia. A Mayo Clinic study showed that when the person engaged in artistic activities in midlife or later in life the risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) development was reduced by 73%, involvement in crafts reduced it by 45% and engagement in social activities by 55%. In a surprise finding the use of a computer late in life was associated with a 53% reduction in MCI development. These are very significant observations.

Physical activity reduces risk for dementia

Apart from stimulating your brain, physical activities also significantly reduce the risk for dementia. A synopsis of 11 such studies showed that dementia is reduced by 30% when physical activity is started in midlife and the person is aging compared to non-exercisers.

Myth 5: Osteoporosis occurs only in women

There is a serious misunderstanding about osteoporosis. Several factors work together that can cause osteoporosis. Women in menopause are more likely to develop it due to the missing ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together and stimulate vitamin D induced calcium deposition into bone as well as decreasing bone resorption.

Vitamin K2 also deposits calcium into the bone. In postmenopausal women who take bioidentical hormone replacement, vitamin D and K2 the bone density remains strong. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in postmenopausal women who take synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones have side chains that do not fit the natural hormone receptors of a woman. This is why osteoporosis persist. And, yes, men get osteoporosis, but typically 10 years later. Typically, they get into andropause where testosterone production declines 10 years later.

Myth 6: People stop sex as they age

With age men can develop erectile dysfunction (ED) and women vaginal dryness, both of which can interfere with having sex. A large study showed that only 0.4% of men in the age group 18-29 had ED. In the age group of 60-69 there were 11.5% who suffered from ED. What this means though is that 88.5% of men age 60-69 did not suffer from ED. Fortunately for those who have ED drugs like Cialis and Viagra can correct their problem and they can have regular sex. What a change from 25 years ago when none of these drugs were available (approval of Viagra by FDA in 1998 and of Cialis in 2003).

Bioidentical hormone replacement beyond menopause and andropause preserves your normal sex drive as well. There are additional benefits of bioidentical hormones. They have positive effects on the heart, brain, bones and the muscle mass.

Myth 7: It is too late to stop smoking now

One of the myths that many older smokers like to say is that it would be too late to stop smoking. They think the damage to heart and lungs is permanent and quitting now is too late. Fact is that quitting smoking immediately improves your blood circulation and gives you more oxygen. In just 1 year the risk of getting a heart attack is cut into half. In 10 years, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of non-smokers. There is a reduction of getting lung cancer by half.

Medical Myths About Aging

Medical Myths about Aging

Conclusion

There are all kinds of medical myths about aging. We may think that physical deterioration is inevitable. Or we believe that older people cannot exercise. And we cannot help it, but our brain slows down as we get older. And there is the question whether we need less sleep as we age. Osteoporosis is a disease of women, is it not? These older couples, they don’t have sex any more, do they? And is it too late to stop smoking now that I am 65 years old? All of these myths exist, but there is a need to debunk them.

The truth behind the medical myths about aging

I explained in detail what the medical truths are behind these questions. Many of these myths have developed in the past. But with regular exercise, balanced nutrition (Mediterranean diet) and a positive attitude much of these old myths can be overcome. Bioidentical hormone replacement when hormones are missing is another powerful tool. Yes, we all age. But we are still living and can enjoy life as long as it lasts.

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.

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.

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!

Incoming search terms:

Mar
14
2020

Telomeres are Important

In the first place, Dr. Joseph Raphaele reviewed why telomeres are important at a Conference in Las Vegas in December 2019. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15, 2019. The actual title of his lecture was: “Telomeres in 2019; clinical developments and cutting-edge applications”.

Notably, Dr. Raphaele reviewed how various animals have quite different life expectancies. First, the Aldabra giant tortoises, for instance can live up to 152 years. Second, the house mouse can at the most live up to 6 years, but its predator, the cat lives up to 38 years. Finally, humans can live up to 122.5 years.That is to say, the average mortality rate doubling curve of man is 8 years. Dr. Raphaele introduced the terms “lifespan” and “health-span”.

Lifespan versus health-span

The first thing to remember is that our lifespan is defined by the number of years we live. On the contrary, the health-span is defined by the number of years you do not have any disease and your physical and mental health are good. Dr. Raphaele explained that for the most part the body’s organs have a limit of functioning after 80. For this reason the kidneys, the maximum heart rate, the maximum breathing capacity and the maximum work rate (oxygen uptake) all decline after the age of 80. It is important to realize that in 1961 Dr. Leonard Hayflick showed that there is a limit of how often cells can divide. After 60 doublings cells in tissue culture either die or just stop dividing. The built-in molecular clock resides in the telomeres. The telomeres are the caps at the end of the chromosomes in the cell’s nucleus.

Telomeres and their function in aging

In a word, what is the function of telomeres? In essence, the telomeres protect the integrity of our genes. For the most part, they protect the chromosomes from deteriorating, prevent DNA fusion and massive instability of the genes. In addition, the telomeres allow the cells to divide in an orderly fashion, but only up to the Hayflick limits. In short, the bottom line is that telomeres prevent cells from mutations of the DNA, from senescence and from death.

Shortening of telomere length with age

Dr. Raphaele said that one of the important findings was that telomere length is shortening with age. Notably, he showed a slide similar to this. To clarify, this graph shows telomere length as a function of the lifespan in years. The telomere length is obtained by a blood test. This determines the length of the telomeres in white blood cells. At a young age it has a length of between 8 and 10 kb. kb stands for kilobase. A kilobase consists of 1,000 pairs of nucleic acid sequences. So, 10 kb means 10,000 pairs of nucleic acid sequences. Around the age of 80 people have much shorter telomeres, only 4 to 6 kb. There is an enzyme, called telomerase that can elongate telomeres by approximately 10%. But this may not be desirable as too much telomerase activation can also stimulate cancer growth.

Age changes telomere length

Dr. Raphaele explained further that a telomere loses about 100 base pairs per cell division. But there are other factors that shorten telomeres. Smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, stress and a low antioxidant status all can shorten telomeres. Certain congenital conditions can shorten telomeres by 28%. Dyskeratosis congenita is such a condition where 80% patients die by the age of 30 due to aplastic anemia. This is associated with bone marrow failure. 10% of these patients die from cancer. Apart from age, which shortens telomeres slowly, lifestyle factors are very important. A good lifestyle where you exercise regularly, you don’t smoke and you eat a healthy diet will slow down the shortening of your telomeres. Controlling your stress, sleeping enough hours per night and taking supplements also delays telomere shortening. Certain medications that control diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid medication that treats hypothyroidism also delay telomere shortening.

Telomeres and shortened lifespan

Researchers could show that good lifestyle practices work by increasing telomerase to a certain degree. This results in lengthening of telomeres and translates into up to 10 years of increased life span. Jerry Shay, PhD said in 2011: “While the aging process is complex and certainly cannot be explained solely on the basis of telomere biology, there is a growing consensus that in some situations telomere biology and telomere tests may have important utility similar to cholesterol assays or blood pressure monitoring measurements.”

Telomeres are not just a biological clock inside our cells. They have a great influence on the function of mitochondria and on how many mitochondria multiply inside cells. This latter process is called mitochondrial biogenesis. In addition, telomeres regulate gene expression.

Chronic diseases associated with shortened telomeres

Here is a list of chronic diseases where all the patients have shortened telomeres.

  • High blood pressure
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Chronic stress
  • Metabolic syndrome

Telomeres in cardiovascular disease

Telomere length was found to be shortened in those who developed a heart attack. Researchers compared the telomere length in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients to people with no history of heart attacks. In comparison to this normal group the heart attack victims had telomeres typical for people who are chronologically 11.3 years older than the healthy controls. The researchers calculated that people with telomere shortening had a 3-fold higher risk of coming down with a heart attack.

Telomere length enhancers

  1. Lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Examples are smoking cessation, weight loss and stress reduction.
  2. Dietary changes: we know that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) supplements elongate telomeres as does a low-fat diet.
  3. Supplements like vitamin D3, antioxidants (vitamin C and E) and astragalus (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well. The astragalus supplement, TA-65 showed a significant elongation of telomeres after 12 months while controls lost telomere length.
  4. Exercise: in a 24-week experiment of care workers regular aerobic exercise increased the telomeres by 67.3 base pairs.
  5. Bioidentical hormone replacement in aging people: when hormones are missing after andropause and menopause, the natural hormones need replacing, or the telomeres are shortening.
  6. High cortisol levels cause telomere shortening.
  7. Human growth hormone elongates telomeres via telomerase activation.
  8. The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was shown to extend life and telomeres as well.

Therapeutic rationale for telomere lengthening in CAD and AD

Patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) are at risk for developing heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Here is an overview of many clinical trials that have been done in humans with CAD. It shows shortening of telomeres in these high-risk patients. But the review also shows that telomeres can lengthen by changing the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Researchers were increasing the enzyme telomerase that indirectly lengthens telomeres. Both approaches prevent serious cardiovascular disease and increase life expectancy significantly. In severe cases of telomere shortening the physician can consider TERT gene therapy.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) also is a condition where telomeres are shortened compared to normal controls. Time will tell whether TERT gene therapy is possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Telomeres are Important

Telomeres are Important

Conclusion

Telomeres are the caps of the chromosomes in our cells. In the past the word “telomere” appeared obscure and only scientists discussed this among themselves. Now we know that telomere shortening is often the reason for chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and obesity. Patients who have these conditions often have shortened telomeres in their white blood cells. Over the years we have learnt that lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Smoking cessation, exercise, weight loss and stress reduction are elongating telomeres.

Additional factors elongating telomeres

In addition, supplements like antioxidants (vitamin C and E), vitamin D3 and astragalus root (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well. By elongating telomeres, a person can add 10 to 11 years of disease-free life to the normal life expectancy. Researchers showed that telomerase activation by human growth hormone increased telomere length without causing cancer. Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium spoke about HGH replacement in aging people on other occasions. He said that cautiously treating patients with low doses of HGH when blood tests showed deficiency, adds about two decades of life-expectancy to these patients’ lives.

Incoming search terms:

Feb
22
2020

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Dr. Kurt Hong, professor of clinical medicine spoke about clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 14, 2019. Although he spoke on various forms of fasting, he concluded that the fasting mimicking diet had the best results and was most consumer-friendly.

How we age

Dr. Hong reviewed the processes of aging. We age, because our cells experience oxidative damage and our telomeres (the end caps of our chromosomes) get shorter in time. We also age, because there are genetic mutations in our cells’ DNA and our mitochondria are aging as well. The mitochondria are the small energy packages inside the cells that give us energy. When people age, they have lost mitochondria, there is less energy that the body makes out of food and we feel chronically tired.

Above the age of 65 we are also likely to develop diseases of various organs:

  • Heart disease: 31%
  • Cancer: 24%
  • Chronic lung disease (lower respiratory disease): 21%
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 13%
  • Diabetes: 11%

Women are generally healthier than men and their life expectation is 4 to 5 years longer than that of men.

Cellular and molecular aging

Longevity researchers have done mouse experiments and human clinical trials for decades. Dr. Hong asked the question: how much longer could humans live, if we could cure cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes? The answer is: 13 years. But if we transfer the animal data to humans it should be 30 years of longer life. Why is there such a discrepancy? The answer is that it is easy to force good lifestyles onto animals, but humans are resistant to changes. Humans have their habits; they like to continue to smoke and eat fast food instead of switching to a healthier Mediterranean diet. Humans also resist a regular exercise program. And they do not want to hear that they should replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones. The result is that we humans will prolong our lives only by less than 50% of what we could achieve.

The concept of intermittent fasting

Dr. Hong stated, that ten thousand years ago, people did not always have enough food to eat. They were forced to intermittently fast. That did not mean that they had long life expectancies, as there was no cure for any disease. But one fact was true: the body learnt to rejuvenate itself during periods of fasting. And these longevity genes are still present in our genes. But they will only help us when we actually fast for some periods of time.

Dr. Hong reviewed what kind of fasting methods are available.

Prolonged fasting and juice fasting are not among the options. With prolonged fasting electrolyte disturbances become an issue. Juice fasting does not remove enough calories and nutrients. This, however is needed to allow the body to stimulate the longevity genes.

How fasting diets work

Dr. Hong explained that there are essentially 5 fasting diets that are effective in regulating the key nutrient sensitive pathways of IGF-1, TOR and PKA. This increases cellular protection and maintenance. It also increases activation of stress resistance pathways and removes and replaces damaged and dysfunctional cells. Finally, a fasting diet also reduces inflammation, which is often the start of disease.

A review of the 5 fasting diets

Time-restricted eating (TRE)

With TRE the person fasts for 12 to 16 hours every day. The person restricts the daily food consumption to a 4- to 12-hour window. The disadvantage is that this fast is done every day. The period of fasting may not be long enough to change the metabolism, where the above-mentioned effects take place.

Alternate-day fasting  

This is a 24-hour fast every other day with a 1:1 day eating-fasting cycle. This does not appear to be physiological and is disruptive with regard to social activities.

5:2 intermittent fasting

With this fast you fast for 2 days every week. With this 2:5 eating-fasting cycle the person fasts for 2 days every week; the other 5 days you eat as much as you desire.

Although this is effective, it can be quite disruptive to your lifestyle.

Periodic fasting

You fast for 48 to 72 hours every couple of months. This fast is socially more acceptable. It is not that often, just a couple of times in a year. The question remains whether it is effective in changing the metabolism to trigger the effects mentioned above.

Fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)

The original suggestion by Dr. Longo, the inventor of the FMD was that you should fast for 5 days once every month. Since then he has modified it and said that you can achieve similar metabolic changes, if you only fast for 3 days and do this a couple of times per year. I have done the FMD since December 2017 and I adhere to the original schedule of doing the FMD monthly for 5 days. This has provided me with more energy. It is easier to keep my body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Dr. Hong explained that the FMD allows you to eat, but it tricks the body into acting like you are fasting. Because you are eating 500 to 600 calories per day, you are getting some fluid and nutrients, so the hunger pangs are tolerable.

More details about the FMD

Here is Dr. Hong’s summary about the FMD: “The stomach sees food, while the cells see fasting”. Dr. Hong said that the FMD is the most user-friendly method of fasting. It also has had the most scientific studies to validate that it is indeed working. Poorly functioning mitochondria and misfolded proteins are removed by a process of phagocytosis. The FMD reduces heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Stem cell production also gets a boost. This promotes cell regeneration and reduces risk factors of premature aging.

Publication on the effectiveness of the FMD

A publication came out in 2017 reporting about the findings of a clinical trial regarding the FMD.

Researchers followed markers of aging, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease in 100 volunteers. They underwent a FMD for 5 days on 3 consecutive months. The results were astounding. The body mass index, the fasting blood sugar level, triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol and the CRP were all lower. CRP stands for C-reactive protein, which measures the degree of inflammation in the body. The blood pressure was also lower. Overall the 5-day FMD was a safe method with no side effects. The FMD reduced markers and risk factors of aging and age-related diseases. In doing so it prolongs life by reducing the likelihood of coming down with disease.

Who should abstain from fasting?

Dr. Hong mentioned that the FMD is not for everybody. Pregnant women should refrain from going on it, also type 1 and type 2 insulin dependent diabetics. Anybody who has a sign of an active infection (coughing, having a fever or diarrhea) should be excluded. Other exclusions are people who are underweight (BMI less than 18.5) or are malnourished (protein deficiency). Patients with heart failure and advanced kidney or liver disease should not take part in a fasting program.

Autoimmune diseases and FMD

The myelin sheath around the axon of nerve cells in the central nervous system are supported by oligodendrocytes. In multiple sclerosis (MS) patients T lymphocytes activate macrophages and B cells to produce autoantibodies. They destroy oligodendrocytes breaking down the insulating barrier of the myelin sheath. In MS patients the broken-down myelin sheath suppresses the electrical impulses transmitted through the nerve fibers. The FMD led to clinical improvements.

In a pilot study intermittent fasting changed the gut flora into a healthier flora.

This triggered the immune system in the gut to make less inflammatory T cells producing the IL-17 cytokines. There was also an increase in regulatory T helper cells.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBM) can be improved with several courses of FMD. As the authors showed, intestinal inflammation improved with FMD. The intestinal gut flora improved with the FMD and it promoted intestinal regeneration.

Reversal of physical and functional decline

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) has a variety of effects on the human body. Dr. Hong showed a slide where we could see that ketone bodies, cortisol and ghrelin levels are increased in the blood. At the same time glucose, insulin, leptin and IGF-1 levels are reduced. In addition, triglycerides and LDL levels are getting lower. Inflammatory markers including the C-reactive protein (CRP) are reduced as well.

Effects of the FMD on various organs in the body

A look at all of the organs shows that in the liver the ketone body production and insulin sensitivity are up. Glycogen production in the liver as well as the liver size are down.

The intestines produce ketone bodies. In the skeletal muscles the insulin sensitivity is increased, while the muscle structure and function are improved. In the brain the hunger feeling increases the release of neurotropic factors including the neuropeptide Y. Cognitive function and stress resistance increase with the FMD. The FMD reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. With respect to the cardiovascular system the heart rate drops down and blood pressure gets lower. The insulin production in the pancreas is reduced.

Fatty tissue

In fatty tissue lipolysis is up and also the production of adiponectin. This is a protein hormone involved in glucose and fatty acid metabolism. Insulin sensitivity with the FMD is also increased. On the other hand, the FMD reduces fat mass, leptin production and inflammation.

The FMD is the solution to preventing disease and prolonging your life

All of these effects lead to a reversal of physiologic and functional declines. Age-related metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes are postponed or eliminated. The FMD prevents neuro-cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the risk of developing cancer is getting lower. In summary, the FMD improves the health-span, quality of life and can prepare you for a long life.

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Conclusion

Dr. Kurt Hong is a professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. He gave a talk at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2019. He discussed what we could do to help patients with various autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. It turns out that the fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is the best solution to reduce inflammation and modify  the autoimmune response from aggressive T lymphocytes. With the FMD you consume only 500 to 600 calories per day for 5 days every month. The rest of the days of the month you eat a healthy Mediterranean-type diet.

Fasting mimicking diet, the best way to treat autoimmune diseases

Dr. Hong explained in detail what cellular mechanisms are at work to achieve the modification of the immune system in autoimmune diseases. The FMD is also the solution to slow down aging in healthy people. Dr. Hong discussed clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet fort autoimmune diseases. It is easier to prevent disease than it is to cure an illness. The FMD is an easier way, because you don’t fast completely, you only reduce your food intake to the bare minimum, but your body “thinks” that you are fasting.

Ultimately, this approach does take some effort, and it does take time to familiarize yourself with it. If patients do it for the first time, they will experience some hunger, the first and second day tend to be a hurdle! Once you make it part of a health routine on a regular basis, it is a lot easier.