Sep
22
2018

The Best Foods For Your Heart

In the following I will describe 16 foods, which are the best foods for your heart. I will also comment as to why I believe they are best. This review is based on this article in “Medical News Today”.

But I have added many other comments to it.

Heart disease is still the number 1 killer. We need to change what we eat.

Vegetables

The regular intake of green leaf vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) has an association with the  preservation of cognitive function. In the Nurses’ Health Study starting in 1984 women were asked about their usual intake of a specified portion of food items, including 15 fruits and 28 vegetables. At a later date, between 1995 and 2001, researchers decided to ask the oldest participants (70 years and older) to participate in a cognitive function study. Two years later researchers repeated these tests.The main finding of the study is that women with the highest intake of green, leafy vegetables had the least decline in their cognitive function. The vegetable lovers, who consumed five serving of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower had less decline in their cognitive function. On the other hand the highest decline showed up in the group that averaged only 2 servings per week.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a source of fiber, folate, multiple vitamins and chromium. Chromium enhances the function of insulin to transport sugar into cells. Asparagus contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and carcinogens. It is said to help prevent lung cancers, larynx cancer, and bone, breast and colon cancers.

Berries

Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are full of bioflavonoids. These are antioxidants, which prevent cardiovascular disease.

It is the anthocyanines, which prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Berries also have bioflavonoids and reduce lipid formation in the blood. Berries contain fiber, folate, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Broccoli

This fiber rich vegetable helps to prevent hardening of the arteries. Broccoli and kale likely have preventative effects against colon cancer.

Chickpeas, beans, peas and lentils

Legumes or pulses are a great way to consume plant-derived protein. People who are on vegan diets should be eating them for a protein source. They also contain lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. We know that they lower cholesterol, which prevents heart disease. Other healthy nutrients they contain are bioflavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Dark chocolate

This is a food rich in antioxidants. Dark chocolate is chocolate with more than 70% cocoa content. Please note: “milk chocolate” is nothing better than candy and devoid of any health benefits. Dark chocolate increases the protective HDL cholesterol and prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol. It is said to prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Don’t exceed eating 1 to 2 oz. per day, as chocolate has some sugar in it and the fat content would be detrimental with higher consumption.

Chia seeds and flaxseeds

Chia seeds and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids in the form of α-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA reduces LDL cholesterol and it dissolves plaque in the arteries. ALA also reduces blood pressure to a certain degree. All of this helps reduce cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes). Note that flaxseeds must be ground to powder to release the nutrients from its tough shell. Both chia and flaxseeds can be used as an egg replacement in vegan cooking.

Fish high in omega-3s

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.

Coffee

A Brazilian study from 2018 showed that drinking 3 cups of coffee a day would stop coronary artery calcification. Many other studies have shown reduced mortality from heart attacks and strokes with increased coffee intake.

Green tea

Green tea is known to reduce blood pressure slightly and to reduce cholesterol. Both effects are beneficial for the cardiovascular system (prevents heart attacks and strokes). Green tea also prevents many cancers. Whatever we know about coffee consumption seems to also be true for green tea consumption.

Nuts

Nuts contain healthy fatty acids (omega-3). But they also contain fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Use them in desserts, in salads and as a quick food on the go. They are definitely healthier than protein bars.

Liver

Liver is one of the nutrient rich foods. It is rich in iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12 and biotin.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber. It has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. This is important for prevention of heart disease.

Red wine (may be)

The bioflavonoids of red grapes have been the subject of much research. There is a dose-response curve showing a protective effect with regard to heart attacks and strokes with the consumption of  1 to 3 glasses of red wine per day. But unfortunately there is also a dose-response curve with respect to alcohol consumption and cancer causation. Personally, I take resveratrol from the health food store, 500 mg daily and consume white wine or red wine very rarely.

Tomatoes

There are a number of beneficial phytochemicals in tomatoes. Carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthine and beta-carotenes are helping to prevent prostate cancer and colon cancer. Potassium and folate are cardioprotective.

Spinach

Eating spinach regularly will provide you with magnesium, iron and bioflavonoids. Magnesium is good for a regular heart rhythm. The other nutrients are good for skin, bone and hair health.

Discussion

I have reviewed why these 16 foods are the best foods for your heart. We have seen that many foods that are rich in antioxidants are also cancer preventative. People who eat a Mediterranean diet will get these 16 foods, because their meals are balanced with nutrients. But if you eat a hamburger or a pizza you will not get balanced nutrients. The more one-sided your food intake, the more dangerous your lifestyle becomes. This is the problem with the Standard American diet (“SAD”). You need all of the components of the 16 foods described here. Junk food won’t do, as it consists only of empty calories.

The Best Foods For Your Heart

The Best Foods For Your Heart

Conclusion

It is useful to review healthy foods as was done above. Now it is a matter of including them in your daily food intake. If this is overwhelming you, start with baby steps. One or two healthy foods here or there are a good start. Increase this until you cover all the 16 foods mentioned. The more balanced your food intake is, the more antioxidant vitamins you will get. And the more heart disease and cancer prevention you will experience.

Apart from good, balanced nutrition we also need regular exercise for heart disease and cancer prevention. Go to a gym, go for a walk, climb some stairs. Get away from the computer and television. Together with best foods for your heart this will keep you healthier for longer.

May
27
2018

Benefits Of Eating Nuts

You hear from time to time that there are benefits of eating nuts. But you don’t often see more details about it. I came across an article entitled “Nut lovers rejoice: Your favorite snack protects your heart”. It stressed that nuts prevent heart attacks. I will review some of this information here, but also touch on other aspects.

What nuts contain

Nuts contain fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, folate and many minerals (zinc, potassium, magnesium). These ingredients have their own positive effects on your metabolism. For instance the fiber will lower cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood, which are risk factors for heart attacks. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Here is a review that shows why eating nuts makes a difference for your health. Despite all of the good that nuts do, you need to keep an eye at the overall quantity of nuts you eat. Nuts can contain up to 80% as oil, even though they are good oils. But the extra calories associated with the oil can make you gain some weight. When you add nuts to your diet you need to subtract some of the lesser quality saturated fats, so that your overall calorie balance does not change.

How do we know that nuts are healthy?

A British study from 2016 did a meta-analysis of people who ate nuts versus people who did not include nuts in their diet. 10 studies showed that eating nuts reduced mortality from all causes by 19%. In 5 studies where cardiovascular mortality was measured, a reduction of 27% was noticeable. Congestive heart disease in 3 studies showed a reduction by 34% when the patients consumed nuts. Stroke mortality was 17% less, as 3 studies showed. This is just an example of a few studies that show how effective supplementation of your diet by a few nuts here and there can be on the general mortality. It especially applies to mortality which is due to heart disease and strokes. Other effects of nut consumption are the reduction of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and abdominal aneurysm (each by 15 to 20%).

Allergic reactions to nuts

A small percentage of people are allergic to various nuts. Nuts can cause a severe asthma attack, if the person has been sensitized to them in the past. They can cause angioneurotic edema in a small portion of people who may have inherited this condition. Tree nut allergies can cause anaphylaxis as is explained in this link.

The right dosage of nuts

This Australian website says that 30 grams of nuts, which is a handful of them would be the right dose per day. This is about 1 ounce per day. By including a variety of nuts your nutritional content will equal out. Some nuts have more calcium (almonds); others have more plant sterols (pistachios) or more fiber (pecans).

How bias can get introduced into medical literature

The Karolinska institute in Sweden analyzed the lifestyle and behavior pattern of nut lovers. Nut lovers were also into other healthy lifestyles: they smoked less than non-nut lovers. Nut lovers were leaner, physically more active and drank less alcohol.

They also ate more fruit and vegetables. Nut-lovers’ blood pressure was lower than the blood pressure of non-nut lovers. And people who consumed nuts on average had better education. Some of these lifestyle patterns can also protect the heart and contribute to less strokes. The researcher must be vigilant to control for the other lifestyle patterns except for the difference in the nut consumption when looking for the effect of nut consumption. If this is not done, there could be confounding, which introduces a bias into the final results.

Combine nut supplements and adopt a healthy lifestyle

This said, you know now about the results of good research. It is best to not be concerned about biases any more. For the average consumer it is important to apply what we know: use nuts regularly (about 30 grams per day, which is a handful). But it would not be a bad idea to adopt some of the other healthy lifestyles that nut eaters tend to have. In other words, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, cut out sugar, drink less alcohol and eat fruit and vegetables regularly. This way you will amplify the health promoting effect of the nut supplements.

Benefits Of Eating Nuts

Benefits Of Eating Nuts

Conclusion

We learnt that nut consumption is healthy. Only a small number of people who are allergic to nuts have to avoid them. The majority of people benefit from incorporating a small amount of nuts into their diet. Research has shown that it lowers mortality in general, lowers cardiovascular mortality and mortality from congestive heart disease. Eating nuts also reduced stroke mortality and lowers the risk of atrial fibrillation. When research is done, confounding factors like healthy lifestyles have to be controlled. But when an individual wants to reduce health risks, it does not harm to use healthy lifestyle factors along with nuts to reduce any risk. It will amplify the healthy effects of eating nuts.

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Mar
03
2018

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

There are foods that can protect you from cancer. Generally speaking you want to remove cancer-producing substances from your diet. But diet is only part of your lifestyle that can contribute to cancer. I will list some of the more important dietary factors below and briefly also touch on important other factors.

Avoid burning your meat 

When you use the BBQ, avoid burning your meat. As a matter of fact it is a lot better to use a slow cooker at low heat, and cook the meat for a longer time. In this way you won’t create carcinogens, which are cancer-producing chemicals. Healthy Grilling Tips to Minimize Carcinogens in Your Food. This is particularly important for the red meats (like beef, lamb, bison or pork).

Sugar can cause cancer

You never thought that sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods can cause cancer, but they do. 5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar are Best Friends.  What is the reason for this? The answer is found in the metabolism of cancer cells. Cancer cells use 10- to 12-times more sugar for their metabolism than normal cells.  Over-consuming sugar is the worst thing a cancer patient can do. Replace sugar by stevia, which is a harmless sweetener. It does not lead to an insulin reaction. You need to avoid all other sugar substitutes as there are other health problems associated with them.

Avoid macaroni and cheese because of phthalates

Avoid macaroni and cheese: Phthalates are found in almost every sample of cheese powder used to manufacture macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can cause infertility and breast cancer. Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens.

High fat diet

A high fat diet increases the risk for breast cancer: High-Fat Diet Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds. Limit your fat intake to about 10% of saturated fat. That is the recommendation of the FDA: New FDA Food Guidelines – Medical Articles by Dr. Ray. Increase your consumption of fish and seafood. Only one proviso: predator fish like shark, marlin, tilefish, swordfish and grouper are high in mercury. But wild salmon, sardines and oysters are low in mercury; so are shrimp and squid. Before You Buy Fish, Check This Mercury Level List.

Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

In order to avoid cancer, take high dose vitamin D3 supplements to avoid cancer. Vitamin D3 in cancer prevention and therapy: the nutritional issue. Strong statistics exist showing that vitamin D3 is a powerful tool to lower your risk of developing cancer. Your family doctor should take a blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D level to monitor that you absorb enough vitamin D3. Some people absorb vitamin D3 slowly and fast absorbers absorb it more rapidly.  The only way how to find out how well your gut is absorbing vitamin D3, is by doing this blood test. It is now generally accepted that a good range of the 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is between 50 and 80 ng/ml.

Also curcumin 500 mg per day is good for cancer prevention. Turmeric | Cancer in general | Cancer Research UK.

Take enough fiber

Make sure you take enough fiber, which does not only reduce colorectal cancer, but also many other cancers. Foods for Cancer Prevention. North Americans are not consuming enough fiber. Vitamin D3 in cancer prevention and therapy: the nutritional issue.

Avoid processed meat

The World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is causing a lot of cancer. They labeled processed meat as a probable carcinogen. Processed meat causes colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables

Eat moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables. The claim in the past that fruit and vegetables would protect you from cancer is not as solid as it was thought of in the past. Newer research has shown that a basic intake of fruit and vegetables is needed for essential nutrients, but consuming more than that will NOT protect you from cancer. Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk. This is a case where eating more vegetables or fruit beyond a certain point will not do harm, but it will not protect you further from cancer.

Drink green tea or black tea

Drink green tea or black tea, sweetened with stevia for cancer prevention: Winter Beverages for Cancer Prevention. Green tea contains polyphenols and antioxidants. One of the antioxidants is called catechin, which prevents cell damage. The antioxidants help to prevent breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In addition tea is heart healthy.

Avoid alcohol consumption 

Avoid alcohol consumption as much as possible to prevent cancer: Drinking Alcohol Really Does Raise Your Cancer Risk, Doctors Warn. We were indoctrinated by cardiologists that one glass of wine per day for women and two glasses of wine per day for men would be a prevention against heart attacks. But these relatively small amounts of alcohol do have an effect on causing cancer.  This British study showed that small amounts of alcohol indeed are cardioprotective. In contrast, these amounts and higher alcohol amounts can also cause cancer of the pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, colon and pancreas.

Avoid too much red meat consumption

Beef, lamb and pork probably contribute to causing cancer according to the WHO. Use common sense, and eat more fish, chicken and turkey. Reduce your beef consumption. My grandmother said when I grew up in Germany that beef was a meal reserved for Sunday dinner only. The rest of the days we ate little in the way of meats, but lentils, beans, eggs or fish instead. Ask your grandmother, what she used to cook. Or ask your mother what she ate as a child.

Other lifestyle issues

Quit smoking, if you still do. This is by and large the biggest risk for developing lung cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer. Watch your calorie intake: eat smaller meals more often. This way the production of your digestive juices will consume some calories and because you satisfied your hunger for foods, you will not gain weight. This will help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are established risks for developing cancer. Here is a review that shows you, which cancer types are caused by obesity: Obesity and Cancer . With regard to diabetes, there is a strong association with developing liver cancer, pancreas cancer and endometrial cancer (=uterine cancer). There is a lesser risk (only 1.2 to 1.5-fold) to develop colorectal cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer. Diabetes and Cancer: A consensus report.

Pollution can also be a factor in causing cancer: How air pollution can cause cancer. If you can move to a less polluted city, do so.

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

Conclusion

As shown above there is strong evidence that certain foods can cause cancer. Others, including supplements like curcumin and vitamin D3, can help prevent cancer. If we avoid as many of the known cancer producing foods and eat more of the healthy foods that do not cause cancer, our cancer risk will decline significantly. In addition, if you quit smoking, avoid pollution as much as possible, reduce your alcohol intake and watch your calorie intake to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, you will move into the low-risk cancer group. We all need to work on this on an ongoing basis.

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Jan
20
2018

Lower Cholesterol

When your cholesterol is high, what can you do to lower cholesterol? First, there is the bad cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol that should not be too high. Furthermore, there is the good cholesterol, called HDL cholesterol that you want to be to higher to protect you from hardening of the arteries. LDL cholesterol finds its way into plaques of arteries, and later calcification occurs. HDL cholesterol does the opposite; it dissolves LDL cholesterol and brings it to the liver.

Food contributes only to a small portion to the increases of your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the blood. The minor part of the body’s cholesterol stems directly the refined carbs and trans fats from your diet. Here are a number of steps that will protect your heart from LDL cholesterol.

1. Cut out red meat

Cutting out red meat (like beef, pork and sausages) to an absolute minimum, for instance once per week or less is important. The reason is that these meats have more cholesterol in them and also more saturated fats than any other foods. Compare that to poultry, fish and vegetables like beans, which are healthy food sources.

2. Eliminate trans fats

We need to eliminate trans fats as they are causing heart attacks. There is an important difference between ruminant trans fats and artificial trans fats. Ruminant trans fats have been part of the human diet for millennia like milk fat and fat from cows that are on pasture and lamb. Milk products for instance contain fat with 2-5% natural trans fats. 3-9 % of the fat in beef and lamb consists of natural trans fats. Studies have shown that the body is able to handle these natural trans fats and heart attacks are not more frequent in people eating moderate amounts of these products including butter from cows that graze on pasture.

Artificial trans fats

Quite the opposite is true for artificial trans fats in margarine that comes from vegetable oil. Avoid bakery items like sweet pieces or muffins and other products that contain hydrogenated oils. Read labels! Use olive oil or coconut oil, but avoid vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil or grape seed oil to get away from trans fats and unstable oils that turn rancid. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries.

3. Cut out sugar and starchy foods

You need to cut out sugar and starchy foods because these will raise your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which also leads to hardening of your arteries. This is an important observation. Starchy foods are broken down by  pancreatic juices into sugar, which enters your blood stream, causing an outpouring of insulin from the pancreas. When the short-term storage of sugar as glycogen is exhausted in muscle and liver tissue, the liver has to process any surplus of sugar that is still there. The end results are triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Unfortunately the protective HDL cholesterol does not reach higher levels, when the LDL cholesterol is increased. A persistent diet of high-refined carbs will increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It follows from this that we are all better off cutting out sugar and starchy foods from our food intake.

4. Increase your soluble fiber intake

Increase your soluble fiber intake by eating vegetables, oats and oat bran, lentils, fruits and beans. Why does this decrease LDL cholesterol? The liver tries to eliminate too much cholesterol by binding it to bile salts and excreting it into your small bowel. But the last part of the small bowel reabsorbs some of these bile salts , and from there they return to the liver. This is called the enterohepatic pathway of bile salts. Soluble fiber intake binds those bile salts and prevents re-absorption in the enterohepatic pathway, eliminating cholesterol safely in stool. Soluble fiber from psyllium, pectin, beta-glucans and others have been shown in clinical trials to reduce LDL cholesterol by binding bile salts in the gut (interrupting the enterohepatic pathway).

Plant sterols and fiber supplements

Plant sterols (usually sold as sterol esters) are recognized by the FDA as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, if taken in high enough amounts (2.4 grams of sterol esters per day). There are other useful supplements like artichoke extract, pomegranate, soy protein, Indian gooseberry (Amla), garlic and pantethine (vitamin B5) that are beneficial in terms of prevention of heart attacks and strokes. It would be too lengthy to get into more details here.

5. Take a whey protein supplement

There are two major milk proteins, whey and casein. Only whey protein binds to total and LDL cholesterol, lowering both. It is available in health food stores. Follow the package insert of the whey product for dosing.

6. Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake

Omega-3 fats are healthy fats naturally present in fish oils and nuts. They increase the amount of circulating HDL cholesterol, which binds the bad LDL cholesterol. Go ahead and eat salmon, herring and mackerel as well as walnuts, ground flaxseeds and almonds. You can also take molecularly distilled (or pharmaceutically pure) EPA/DHA supplements. This pure form of fish oil is free of mercury and other heavy metals. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is the acronym for docosahexaenoic acid, an important supplement for the brain. Tests have shown that fish oil supplements at a dosage of 3.35 grams per day of EPA plus DHA reduce triglycerides by up to 40%, equally to Lipitor or even more effective, but without the statin side effects. The end result is that your total cholesterol/HDL ratio decreases. This reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

7. Eat foods with anthocyanin

In a 24-week study with diabetic people HDL levels rose by 19% when food was eaten that was rich in anthocyanin. This consisted of eggplant, purple corn, red cabbage, blueberries and blackberries. The advantage of raising the HDL cholesterol level is that the total cholesterol to HDL ratio decreases, which lowers the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

8. Exercising regularly

Exercising will increase your HDL cholesterol, which again decreases the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. This number should be between 1 and 3.5, the lower, the better.

9. Take a supplement called Ubiquinol, or Co-Q-10

Adults above the age of 60 need 400 mg once daily, younger people need between 200 mg and 300 mg daily. Co-Q-10 prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which would aggressively attack the arterial walls causing hardening of the arteries. What causes oxidation of cholesterol? The answer is clear: fried foods like french fries or deep fried chicken will lead to oxidation; other culprits are margarine, commercially baked goods and cigarette smoking.

10. Calcium and vitamin D3

Recently a study on postmenopausal and overweight or obese women found that supplements of calcium combined with vitamin D3 lowered cholesterol.

11. Polyphenols

Flavonoids are the largest group among the polyphenols  in such common foods as vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee, chocolate and wine. Over 130 studies on humans have shown improvement of the lining of the arteries (endothelial functioning) and lowering of blood pressure. Polyphenol consumption has a connection  to a lower risk of mortality from heart attacks. Eat a Mediterranean type diet or a DASH diet, and you will automatically get enough polyphenols with your food. However, resveratrol, the powerful red wine polyphenol, warrants a separate daily supplementation as it prevents LDL oxidation in humans (Ref.1). Take about 250 mg of resveratrol daily.

12. Niacin/ nicotinic acid

This supplement comes as “flush-free niacin” and also as extended release niacin; it can raise the beneficial HDL cholesterol by 30 to 35% when patients take higher doses of 2.25 grams per day. In a metaanalysis of 7 studies researchers found a significant reduction of heart attacks and transient ischemic attacks (precursor syndrome before developing a stroke). Niacin can change the small particle LDL into a large particle size LDL, which is less dangerous. Niacin also reduces oxidation of LDL, which stops the atherosclerotic process. For a healthy person 500 mg per day of flush-free niacin is adequate.

13. Curcumin

This is a powerful heart and brain protector combining three different mechanisms in one; it is reducing oxidative stress, is an anti-inflammatory and counters the process that threatens to destroy the lining of the arteries. One study on healthy volunteers showed reduction of 33% in lipid oxidation, a 12% reduction of total cholesterol and an increase of 29% of the protective HDL cholesterol when patients took 500 mg of curcumin for only 7 days (Ref.1). This is the daily dose I would recommend for prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

14. Vitamin E (tocopherols)

This fat soluble vitamin is an antioxidant and in the past knew about its use as being heart supportive. Strangely enough some conservative physicians bad-mouthed this vitamin. In the meantime health practitioners have returned to using the vitamin. It turns out that there are 8 different types of tocopherols, with the alpha tocopherol being the best-known, but you also want to be sure that you are getting gamma tocopherol with your balanced vitamin E supplement every day. It remains the one that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Simply ask staff at your health food store for a vitamin E supplement with gamma tocopherol in it. Take 400 IU per day (of the mix).

Lower Cholesterol

Lower Cholesterol

Conclusion

There is a lot you can do to control your cholesterol level by changing your diet, shedding some pounds, exercising and quitting smoking. All this will contribute to lower cholesterol. This will have a beneficial, long-term effect regarding prevention of heart attacks and strokes. In addition there are specific supplements and vitamins, which prevent heart attacks and strokes as well. With these measures the majority of people with high LDL cholesterol can change their cholesterol levels without taking statins. Statins have serious side effects like Alzheimer’s disease and a painful muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis. None of the other measures described here have any such side effect. Even if you chose to only concentrate on a few of these 14 points to lower cholesterol there will be significant improvements in your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, when you ask your doctor to order these blood tests.

More info: https://www.askdrray.com/statins-can-hurt-the-consumer/

References

Ref. 1: Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

 

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Apr
08
2017

Breast Cancer Risks

Dr. David Zava, PhD gave a talk on breast cancer risks. His presentation took place at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. The detailed title was: “The Role of Hormones, Essential Nutrients, Environmental Toxins, and Lifestyle Choices on Breast Cancer Risk”.

He pointed out that both estrogens and progesterone are safe hormones, as long as the doctor does not overdose them and keeps a hormone balance. Unfortunately many women in menopause have too much estrogen on board as the ovaries are still producing them, but there is a lack of progesterone, the moderating hormone that makes estrogen safe.

In the following I am summarizing Dr. Zava’s talk with regard to the essential messages, but leave away much of the highly technical detail of the presentation. This would dilute the message of this blog. I will include a few links for those who wish to read more details about the topic.

Balance between estrogen and progesterone

Most of her life a woman is used to cyclical hormone changes between estrogen and progesterone. When a woman no longer ovulates in premenopause and menopause there is a surplus of estrogen and a lack of progesterone. Having no ovulation means that there is no corpus luteum developing, which is where in the past progesterone production took place. This creates a disbalance where estrogen is dominating; it is called “estrogen dominance”.

This is a dangerous hormone disbalance, because the breast ducts experience a growth stimulus, but the modifying, calming effect of progesterone is missing. Mixed into this is that the stress hormone, cortisol also can make the effect of estrogen worse. On the other hand Dr. Zava showed slides from studies documenting replacement of missing progesterone with a skin progesterone cream (percutaneous bioidentical progesterone cream).

Progesterone concentration in breast lumps after progesterone cream applications

Plasma and breast tissue concentration of progesterone were measured in 40 premenstrual women. The diagnoses were breast lumps and the physicians arranged surgery for them. One group received progesterone cream treatment for 10 to 13 days; the other group was the placebo group. At the time of surgery the plasma (blood) values of progesterone were the same, but progesterone levels in breast tissue were more than 100-fold higher than the values from the placebo group who had received a neutral skin cream. The same experiment also showed that progesterone reduced the number of proliferating epithelial cells (experimental progesterone group). Estrogen on the other hand led to an increase of the number of proliferating epithelial cells (placebo group).

Progesterone cream applied to breasts of premenopausal women

Another example that Dr. Zava gave was a study where 25 mg of bioidentical progesterone cream applied directly to breasts of premenopausal women increased breast tissue progesterone 100-fold, while blood concentrations of progesterone remained the same. Again progesterone decreased the breast stimulation by estrogen of normal epithelium cells.

How to measure progesterone levels

Dr. Zava who runs the ZRT laboratory spent some time to explain how to measure progesterone in a physiological way. He said that these experiments and others that he also projected tell a clear story. Blood (serum) progesterone levels do not adequately reflect what tissue levels in a woman’s breasts are. On the other hand saliva hormone levels do give an accurate account of what breast tissue levels are like. A woman received 30 mg of topical progesterone application. She then had hourly progesterone levels in the serum and in the saliva done. The serum progesterone levels remained at around 2 ng/ml, while the saliva progesterone levels peaked 3 to 5 hours after the application. It reached 16 ng/ml in saliva, which also represents the breast tissue progesterone level.

Blood progesterone levels are unreliable

As a result, Dr. Zava said that the important lesson to learn from this is not to trust blood progesterone levels. Too many physicians fall into this trap and order too much progesterone cream, which leads to overdosing progesterone. In contrast, with salivary progesterone levels you see the physiological tissue levels, with blood tests you don’t. Dr. Zava said: avoid using venipuncture blood or urine in an attempt to interpret hormone test levels, as you will underestimate bio-potency and overdose the patient.

Historical failure of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)

A review of breast cancer would not be complete without mentioning the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiated this trial in 1991.

Researchers prematurely terminated Women’s Health initiative

The WHI ended suddenly in July 2002. The authors stated: “The overall health risks exceeded benefits from use of combined estrogen plus progestin for an average 5.2 year follow-up among healthy postmenopausal US women.” The study found a 41% increase in strokes, 29% increase in heart attacks, 26% increase in breast cancer, 22% increase in total cardiovascular disease, a doubling of blood clots. The recommendation made by this study was to discontinue PremPro.

Breast cancer in the Million Women Study from synthetic hormones

Another study that was mentioned was “Breast cancer and hormone-replacement therapy in the Million Women Study”.  In this study postmenopausal women received HRT with synthetic hormones, either estrogen alone or estrogen mixed with a progestin (in British English “progestagen”). After 5 years estrogen alone had a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer. HRT with an estrogen-progestagen mix had a 100% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Huge difference between bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones

Unfortunately in both of these human experiments the researchers used the wrong hormone substances, namely synthetic estrogens and synthetic progestins. They are NOT identical with natural estrogens and progesterone that a woman’s body makes. As long as the hormones used for hormone replacement therapy are chemically identical to the natural hormones, the body will accept them as they fit the natural hormone receptors in the body. It is the misfit of synthetic hormones that blocks the estrogen receptors or the progesterone receptors. You can readily see from the illustrations of this link that there is a fine balance between the workings of these receptors and there is absolutely no room for patented side chains that Big Pharma introduced into synthetic HRT hormones.

Individualizing bioidentical hormone prescriptions based on blood tests

The other problem of both these studies was that every woman was getting the same dose of hormones and that nobody measured their estrogen blood or estrogen saliva hormone levels. In retrospect the regulatory agencies should never have allowed these “hormones” to hit the market.

Breast cancer develops in three stages

Dr. Zava explained that it common knowledge for some time that breast cancer develops by going through 3 stages.

  1. Initiation

First of all, damage to the DNA of one of the cells types in the breast is what starts the process in the development of breast cancer. This can be done by catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones as was shown by these researchers.

Aromatase inhibitors is useful to reduce estrogen in overweight or obese women where aromatase is present in fatty tissue. The reason obese women have more breast cancer is likely from the extra estrogen production from androgens. Aromatase converts these male hormones from the adrenal glands into estrogen.

Iodine/iodide alters gene expression, which reduces breast cancer development, but also slows down cell division in existing breast cancer. The authors suggested to use iodine/iodide supplements as adjuvant therapy in breast cancer treatment.

  1. Promotion

Furthermore, the next step is that something has to promote the DNA mutation into becoming part of a cancer cell. Estrogen quinones are dangerous estrogen metabolites. They can form from catechol estrogens (other metabolites of estrogen) by reactive oxygen species. But selenium, a trace mineral can interrupt the formation of estrogen quinones, which stops the breasts cancer promotion process. A study from the Klang Valley, Malaysia showed that selenium showed a dose-response effect with respect to prevention of breast cancer; the more selenium in the food, the less breast cancer occurred.

  1. Progression (includes invasion and metastases)

Finally, several factors can help the breast cancer cells to progress, grow bigger locally and eventually move into other areas of the body as metastases. Dr. Zava showed several slides where details of metabolic processes were shown and how changes in some of these would lead to progression of breast cancer. Estrogen excess is a common pathway to breast cancer. The key is to balance it with progesterone, supplements, remove anything that causes estrogen overproduction like obesity (via the aromatase pathway).

The fallacy of overdosing or underdosing

When estrogen is overdosed, it becomes aggressive as indicated before; it can initiate DNA mutations that can cause breast cancer. If it is under dosed, the lack of estrogen can cause heart attacks, strokes and osteoporosis. When estrogen is balanced with progesterone a postmenopausal woman feels best and she is protected from the negative effects of estrogen.

Measures that help prevent breast cancer

Supplement only with bioidentical hormones

When supplementing with bioidentical hormones, keep estrogen within physiological limits and don’t overdose. This can be measured through blood tests or saliva hormone tests. Your most important natural opponent of estrogen is progesterone, which is usually missing in menopause. Measure hormones using tests (progesterone only with saliva tests, estrogen either by blood tests or saliva tests). Don’t rely going by symptoms.

Progesterone to estrogen ratio

Keep the progesterone to estrogen ratio (Pg/E2) at an optimal range, which is in the 100- to 500-fold range. Measure the saliva hormone level of both progesterone and estrogen and calculate. Remember that progesterone serum levels are meaningless. The much higher progesterone level protects the postmenopausal woman from estrogen side effects. Here is a statement worth noting: “Until evidence is found to the contrary, bioidentical hormones remain the preferred method of HRT.” This was the conclusion of a study using bioidentical hormones, where the protection from breast cancer and heart attacks and strokes was also noted.

Eat more fiber containing foods and less beef

Increase fiber intake and reduce red meat consumption. This will eliminate conjugated steroid hormones in the stool. It also increases the sex hormone binding globulin in the blood, which limits the bioavailability of estrogens. Fiber absorbs bile toxins and removes them from the body.

Calcium supplement

Calcium-D-glucarate is a supplement that will decrease beta-glucuronidase. The estrogens were conjugated with the purpose to be eliminated, but beta-glucuronidase causes the conjugated estrogens to be reabsorbed.

Reduce breast cancer risk with probiotics

Probiotics likely stimulate the immune system and help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

No pollutants and toxic chemicals

Avoid toxins like petrochemical pollutants and toxic chemicals. Avoid trans fats. If toxic, heavy metals are present (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury) remove these. Some naturopaths use EDTA chelation to do this.

Other useful supplements

Supplements: sulforaphane (broccoli), EGCG (green tea), alpha-lipoic acid (antioxidant), cruciferous vegetables, resveratrol, selenium and iodide/iodine, N-acetyl cysteine-glutathione. All these supplements/nutrients will prevent estrogen to go to the “dark side”. The dark side is the formation of toxic 4-OH estrogen that could further be converted into catechol estrogen-3,4-quinones that can damage DNA and cause mutations.

Methylation of catechol estrogens

Increase methylation of catechol estrogens: vitamin B1, B6, B12 and folic acid. Methyl donors also are useful for this purpose: MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), SAMe, and Betaine.

Healthy lifestyle (diet , exercise) helps your immune system

Improve your diet (Mediterranean type), exercise moderately, reduce stress, and replace hormones in physiological doses as discussed under point 1 and 2.

Breast Cancer Risks

Breast Cancer Risks

Conclusion

Dr. David Zava, PhD gave an interesting talk at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas. Estrogens, when unopposed by enough progesterone, can cause mutations in breast tissue of women and cause breast cancer. He also reviewed two major clinical trials that utilized hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The problems with these were the synthetic estrogen hormones that caused breast cancer and the synthetic progestins that also behaved like estrogens (not like progesterone) and caused even more breast cancer. The lesson from this is that only bioidentical estrogens and progesterone work in hormone replacement for menopause. Also, the hormones balance each other as discussed under measures that help to prevent breast cancer. In addition there was a list of other useful supplements given that can be taken to reduce the danger of breast cancer.

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Jan
21
2017

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Matthew Andry, MD talked about the effects of metformin on the gut microbiome. He delivered his talk at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. The congress took place from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11, 2016 in Las Vegas. A lot of the sessions that I attended dealt with the gut flora and how it affects our health. This talk belongs to the theme of what a healthy gut microbiome can do for us.

History of metformin

Dr. Andry is a clinical associate professor of the Indiana School of Medicine. He pointed out that metformin is in use for a long time for type 2 diabetes, particularly, if fasting insulin levels are high. Metformin is a biguanide. It seems like it was isolated from French lilac (also known as Goats Rue). As a matter of fact in the middle ages physicians used this herb to treat “thirst and urination”. In retrospect we probably recognize these as symptoms of diabetes. Chemists were able to synthesize the active ingredient in this herb in the 1920’s.

Metformin reduces blood sugar without raising insulin levels

At that time it got the name metformin. Dr. Jean Stern was able to show in the 1950’s in clinical studies that Glucophage, the brand name of metformin was able to reduce blood sugar without raising insulin levels. Between 1977 and 1997 metformin enjoyed wide spread acceptance for treating diabetics. Most noteworthy, several clinical investigators demonstrated that diabetic patients on metformin lived longer and had less heart attacks than patients who receive other treatments.

Metformin is the first-line drug in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in children and adults. It is very popular with physicians who prescribe this drug throughout the world with 120 million prescriptions per year.

Off-label use of metformin

Metformin is beneficial for many other clinical conditions. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis are a few examples of off-label use of metformin. In addition, metformin is also in use as an anti-aging agent as it elongates telomeres, which helps people to live longer. Equally important, researchers also found that metformin is a possible cancer prevention agent. In prostate cancer it was found to have an effect against prostate cancer stem cells. Not to mention that without these cells prostate cancer does not recur after surgical removal.

Action of metformin

For the reason that metformin increases the action of an enzyme, AMPK, this leads to lipid oxidation and breakdown of fatty tissue (catabolism). Furthermore, in the liver metformin inhibits the metabolic pathway of making sugar from fatty acids, called gluconeogenesis. Also, metformin causes increased uptake of sugar into skeletal muscle tissue. This is the reason for the stabilization of blood sugar. Then, metformin has two beneficial effects on the liver. First it stabilizes insulin sensitivity. This means that a given amount of insulin has a larger effect on the liver. Secondly metformin decreases the toxic effect of fatty acids on the liver tissue. In other words metformin has a healing effect on non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a precursor to fatty liver and liver cirrhosis.

Metformin suppresses appetite

Metformin also has an effect on the appetite center in the brain. It helps many obese and overweight people, but not all to lose weight. The mechanism for that effect is in the hypothalamus, where the appetite center is located. Metformin inhibits the neuropeptide Y gene expression in the hypothalamus leading to reduced appetite.

Finally, metformin also normalizes the gut flora. This last point was the main focus of Dr. Andry’s talk.

Metformin and the gut

An animal experiment on mice showed in a study published in 2014 that metformin was stimulating the growth of a beneficial gut bacterium, Akkermansia. This is a mucin-degrading bacterium. But it also affects the metabolism of the host. The authors found that metformin increased the mucin-producing goblet cells.

Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria were fed to one group of mice. This group was on a high fat diet, but not on metformin. The mice showed control of their blood sugars, as did the metformin group. In other words manipulation of the gut flora composition could achieve control of the diabetic metabolism. The authors concluded that pharmacological manipulation of the gut microbiota using metformin in favor of Akkermansia might be a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Effect of metformin on the gut flora

Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria comprise 3%-5% of the gut flora. It does not form spores and is strictly anaerobe, in other words oxygen destroys it. This is the reason why it is difficult to take it as a supplement. It is mostly growing in the mucous of the epithelium layer of the gut. The colon and to a lesser degree the small intestine of all mammalian species including the human race contain the highest number of Akkermansia bacteria.

Here are the effects of metformin on Akkermansia:

  • Metformin increases the Akkermansia bacteria count both in a Petri dish as well as in the gut of experimental mice. This suggests that metformin acts like a growth factor for Akkermansia.
  • Metformin increased the count of Akkermansia bacteria by 18-fold up to a maximum of 12.44% (up from the normal 3-5%) of all of the gut bacteria.
  • Researchers observed that the mucin layer of the lining of the gut in metformin treated mice was thicker. This suggests that the thickness of the mucin layer plays a role in increasing the Akkermansia count.

Effect of the gut on the body’s metabolism

Other researchers have investigated how a high fat diet can change the composition of the gut bacteria, which in turn are altering the body’s metabolism. Essentially a shift in the bowel flora can increase the gut’s permeability. The medical term for this is “leaky gut syndrome”. It leads to absorption of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from bad bacteria in the gut. The end result is endotoxemia in the blood. This causes systemic inflammation in the body. Insulin resistance and obesity develop and often at a later date type 2 diabetes develops. It is interesting to note that often a high fat diet leads to these changes. But increasing Akkermansia bacteria in the gut or treating the patient with metformin can reverse this process.

An interesting mouse experiment showed that the changes that take place in the gut bacteria with cold exposure could be transferred to germ-free mice with no gut flora. This changed their metabolism proving that gut bacteria have profound influences on the metabolism. The fact that the gut bacteria have a profound influence on the metabolism is not only true for animals, but also for humans.

Akkermansia Facts

Here are a few facts about the Akkermansia bacteria.

  • The amounts of Akkermansia bacteria in the gut are inversely related to how fat we are. This is measured by the body mass index (BMI). Fat people have less Akkermansia in their guts.
  • A high fat diet lowers the amount of Akkermansia in the gut
  • Systemic inflammation is present with low Akkermansia counts
  • A high fat diet causes gut permeability (leaky gut syndrome).
  • Appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease can be caused by low levels of Akkermansia.
  • Fat storage (both in subcutaneous fat and visceral fat) can be caused by low levels of Akkermansia.
  • Low levels of Akkermansia cause insulin resistance (associated with diabetes) and high blood sugars.
  • Brown fat’s ability to burn calories increased when Akkermansia was increased , which leads to weight loss.
  • Decreased Akkermansia counts lead to fat storage (weight gain).
  • Gut-barrier integrity improves when Akkermansia increased
  • Increased Akkermansia reduces visceral and total body fat
  • Synthesis of sugar in the liver (gluconeogenesis) reduces when Akkermansia is increased

We have 10 times more bacteria in the gut than we have cells in our body. The Akkermansia percentage of the gut flora can be decreased from antibiotics or food that contains traces of antibiotics. If there is a lack of Akkermansia species, there is more gut permeability, causing LPS increase and causing increase of inflammation in the body. This translates into high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or MS. But it can also cause inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases.

What increases Akkermansia?

We can increase Akkermansia bacteria in the gut by eating Oligofructose-enriched prebiotics. Oligofructose belongs into the inulin type soluble fibers. It is found in a variety of vegetables and plants. This includes onions, garlic, chicory, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, navy beans and wheat. But wheat can be problematic. Clearfield wheat is the modern wheat variety which is now grown worldwide. It is much richer in gluten and can cause problems with gut permeability.

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit will give you enough of oligofructose to maintain a healthy percentage of Akkermansia in your gut bacteria.

Metformin as pointed out earlier can is in use as pharmacotherapy. But I must emphasize that the use of metformin for dysmetabolic syndrome is off-label. There are real side effects of metformin. Lactic acidosis with an unusual tiredness, dizziness and severe drowsiness can develop. Also chills, muscle pain, blue/cold skin and fast/difficult breathing can occur. Slow/irregular heartbeat, vomiting, or diarrhea, stomach pains with nausea are other side effects.

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Conclusion

Our gut bacteria are important for us, more so than you may be aware of. An anaerobe bacterium, Akkermansia makes up 3%-5% of the gut flora. This bacterium lives in the mucous layer of the lining of the gut and ensures that the gut wall is tight. When these bacteria are lacking (due to consumption of junk foods) the gut wall becomes leaky, which is why this condition has the name “leaky gut syndrome”. Irritating toxic substances can now leak into the blood stream and lipopolysaccharides are among them. This causes inflammation in the gut wall, but can go over into the blood vessels and the rest of the body including the brain. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or MS can develop from the inflammation. But it may also cause inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases.

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit will give you enough of oligofructose to maintain a healthy percentage of Akkermansia in your gut bacteria. In particular, onions, garlic, chicory, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes and navy beans provide lots of oligofructose to support Akkermansia in your gut bacteria.

As pointed out earlier metformin as a drug is in use to treat dysmetabolic syndrome. I need to emphasize that the use of metformin is off-label. It is also important to remember, that with effects there are side effects of metformin.

It may be news to you, how our overall health depends so much on the health of the gut. With the knowledge that food can be your medicine, choose your foods wisely. Add some or all of the above named foods that help you support beneficial gut bacteria, and take care of your health!

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Jul
09
2016

Avoid That Heart Attack

Recently Dr. Mark Hyman mentioned a 7-point program to avoid that heart attack. If you follow the recommendations below, chances are that you do not only avoid heart attacks, but also strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

The Potsdam (or EPIC) study has shown that adhering to 4 simple things can reduce

Diabetes by 93%

Heart attacks by 81%

Strokes by 50%

All cancers by 36%.

What were those 4 points?

  1. Not smoking
  2. Exercising 3.5 hours a week
  3. Eating a healthy diet
  4. And maintaining a healthy weight

So with a few more points added it is no wonder that the figures can be even more impressive.

The INTERHEART study

Other studies have also shown the importance of lifestyle changes to improve health outcomes; the INTERHEART study was based on 30,000 people in 52 countries that were followed along. Researchers found that 90 percent of all heart disease could be prevented by simple lifestyle changes.  I have added another point, regular exercise that has been proven to be very effective in preventing many diseases.

So, what are the 8 points that can assure that our health improves?

1.Avoid that heart attack with a colorful, plant-based diet

Your dietary intake is important, because it provides all of the building blocks for your body. You want whole foods that are rich in phytonutrients. Often rainbow colors are mentioned, because the more varied your vegetables look, the more balanced the micronutrients, vitamins and minerals in the food items. Below we will learn that we want to avoid processed foods and hydrogenated fats, but we want to increase fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Avoid that heart attack by stabilizing your blood sugar

Never eat refined carbs alone, as this goes chases up your blood sugar levels and causes unhealthy insulin reactions. Too much insulin production causes inflammation in the body, which can cause inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, clogged arteries with heart attacks and strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. You want to balance complex carbs from vegetables with healthy fats and clean protein in every meal. Avoid sugars- no matter whether it is “natural brown” or white sugar and refined carbohydrates. Your pancreas does not differentiate between honey and other sugars, and it will react the same way!

3.Avoid that heart attack by increasing fiber intake

The more fiber you can tolerate, the better. 50 grams would be ideal, but not everybody can tolerate this due to bloating or a queasy stomach. But even if you can add 5 or 10 grams of fiber per day, this is progress. Fiber decreases LDL cholesterol by intervening with the enterohepatic pathway. Fiber is found in nuts, beans, vegetables, seeds and berries that have lower sugar in them. You can also take a fiber supplement directly like psyllium husk.

4.Avoid that heart attack by cutting out processed foods

Processed foods and junk foods are popular as they fill you up fast when you are hungry. But they need to be avoided at all costs. Sodas, juices and diet drinks affect your sugar and fat metabolism. The extra calories that come from sugary drinks are the biggest contributors to diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Even 100% fruit juice is not healthy, because all of the fiber is removed and you are drinking sugar water to which your pancreas reacts by producing extra insulin. As already discussed the extra insulin just causes inflammation.

Homemade lemon juice

May I suggest a homemade lemon juice that you make by squeezing ½ lemon into a glass; add a tiny bit of Stevia for sweetening and sparkling mineral water. This is a healthy drink without sugar. You can drink this as often as you want. Another component of processed food are omega-6 fatty acids. They are in processed foods, because they increase the shelf life in stores. But they cause inflammation in the body unless balanced by omega-3 fatty acids (see below).

5.Avoid that heart attack by increasing omega-3 fatty acids

Fish and seafood provide you with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately not all fish are healthy. Tuna is a predator fish that accumulates a lot of mercury from the polluted oceans. As a result of this it is not on my fish list. I prefer wild salmon. I also take molecularly distilled fish oil, which has omega-3 fatty acids in it. Many processed foods contain only omega-6 fatty acids, because this is the cheapest way to produce them (they are based on vegetable oils). Also avoid soybean oil, which is the most popular oil in the last few decades to foul up the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

This ratio should be 1:1 to 3:1, but many Americans’ omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 6:1 to 18:1. Omega-6-fatty acids cause arthritis, heart disease and strokes. Instead you want to eat healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids contained in nuts and fish. You can also add molecularly distilled, high potency omega-3 fatty acids as a supplement to help restore the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 in your food intake.

6.Avoid that heart attack by eliminating all hydrogenated fat

Hydrogenated fat like margarine has been shown to cause accelerated hardening of the arteries, which causes heart attacks and strokes. Read labels and eliminate any food that contains hydrogenated fats. If the label indicates that you are dealing with a product containing ”partially hydrogenated oil”, stay away from it as well! Butter from grass fed cows is a healthy fat. Olive oil and coconut oil are both good cooking oils. Olive oil is also good in salad dressings.

7.Avoid that heart attack by keeping alcohol to a minimum

The problem with alcohol is that it is a cell poison. On the other hand small amounts have been show to reduce heart attacks and strokes (one glass for women, two glasses for men per day). However, due to the cell poison effect even low amounts of alcohol contribute to cancer causation, and as a result of that alcohol remains a problem. If you must consume alcohol limiting the intake to minimal amounts is prudent. Alcohol can cause ovarian cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. In both sexes pancreatic cancer can be caused by alcohol. Higher amounts of alcohol raise inflammation with elevation of blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. One recommendation: either consume no alcohol or use alcohol in moderation. One glass does not kill you, but several ones may do it over time!

8.Avoid that heart attack by exercising regularly

Regular exercise is yet another factor that can help you to reduce heart attacks, strokes and cancer even further. I added it as point 8, because it is fundamentally such an important preventative factor. Some studies have shown as much as a 50% drop in many diseases simply by introducing regular exercise.

Avoid That Heart Attack

Avoid That Heart Attack

Conclusion

It is all about lifestyle factors. Pay attention to your diet. Add fiber, subtract sugar. Avoid processed foods, omega-6 fatty acids and hydrogenated fat. Have enough omega-3 fatty acids as fish and supplements. Keep alcohol to a minimum. Your benefits from changing these lifestyle factors, result in huge benefits. You are avoiding 90% of diabetes, 80% of heart attacks, 50% of strokes and 35% of cancers.

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Apr
02
2016

Women Win Turning Older

Supercentenarians may teach us something about the question “Why do women win turning older”? Supercentenarians are people who are 110 years or older. Presently there are 53 of them distributed over the world, 51 are females and two are males. According to Ben Dulken and Anne Brunet this is not by chance: in other mammal species females often live longer than their male counterparts. They theorize that stem cells live longer under the influence of estrogen and this may be the explanation for the difference. They wanted to answer the burning question: “Is life expectancy linked to gender and stem cells”?

Observations regarding why women win turning older

Ben Dulken and Anne Brunet describe that several pieces of evidence are important to note.

Human eunuchs live longer than average males

Castrated males, called eunuchs, live on average 14 years longer than the average male.

Treatment of male mice with estrogen caused longevity

Experiments with male mice treated with estrogen increased their lifespan compared to untreated male controls.

Estrogen receptors on some stem cells in women

Neural stem cells (NSCs) and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have estrogen receptors in females. This leads to extra stimuli during pregnancy, but also during the menstrual cycle in women or the estrus cycle in female mammals.

Faster wound healing in women may be from extra X-chromosome

It gets more complicated: There are non-estrogen regulated stem cell niches in the liver, skin and subcutaneous tissue (important for wound healing and resident muscle stem cells, called satellite cells (SCs). For some reason liver regeneration and wound healing, but also healing of muscle injuries in women and female mammals occurs at a faster pace. Scientists still do not have an answer for this. Theories are that perhaps women with their two X-chromosomes are at an advantage in comparison to males (only one X-chromosome) with respect to certain wound repair mechanisms.

Longevity and self-repair capacity may be related

There is the question whether longevity and self-repair capacity would be related, either through stem cell populations (NSCs, HSCs, SCs), other repair mechanisms or tissue proliferation.

Telomere length in older persons longer in females than in males

There are gender differences in aging patterns of stem cells. For instance studies in dizygotic twins showed that telomere length of blood cells in the female twin was much longer than in the male twin. Genetic factors appear to be the dominant factor to explain this phenomenon rather than hormones. But again this was favoring the female.

Comparison between muscles in older men and younger men

A study in males showed that there is an accumulation of damaged DNA in SC’s of muscle tissue with older age that leads to muscle senescence. In older men there is a delayed response to a specific exercise stimulus with regard to the satellite cell division (SC) when compared to the response in young men.

Women’s telomeres in stem cells grow longer

In females estrogen stimulates telomere growth of stem cells (NSCs and HSCs), which prevents premature stem cell exhaustion.

Effects of diet and exercise on life expectancy

The Potsdam study analyzed 4 healthy behaviors in 23,153 German participants aged 35 to 65 years over 7.8 years. They looked for the development of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and cancer as end points. The 4 healthy behaviors were: to be a lifelong non-smoker , having a body mass index lower than 30, performing 3.5 h/week or more of physical activity, and adhering to healthy dietary principles (high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread and low meat consumption).

Those who had adopted all 4 healthy lifestyles reduced the development of serious disease by up to 80%. Dr. David Katz delivered a keynote address at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014 entitled “Integrative Medicine: A Bridge Over Healthcare’s Troubled Waters”. He mentioned the Potsdam study. And he mentioned what the new logic of a healthy lifestyle is: a healthy lifestyle causes healthy telomeres of somatic cells and of stem cells; this causes health until a ripe old age.

Life Expectancy Linked To Gender And Stem Cells

Life Expectancy Linked To Gender And Stem Cells

Conclusion why women win turning older

It seems that women and female mammals are more protected by nature than males. The previously called ”weak sex” is in fact a lot stronger! This may be the reason that among supercentenarians there are only a few males remaining. But we don’t know how many males take the lifestyle factors of the Potsdam study serious. Males who want to age gracefully have to pay more attention to healthy lifestyles. This leads to longer telomeres and this allows for stem cell and somatic cell renewal. There are still many unanswered questions, but life expectancy is definitely related to how well we preserve stem cells throughout our body. This in turn depends very much on our lifestyle patterns.

Mar
12
2016

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

The Standard American Diet will not provide enough fiber, an essential food ingredient. The fiber intake in the US population is between 12.5 grams and 16.8 grams on average, which is way below the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine as listed below.

Depending on age and gender the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies has recommended the following guidelines for adequate daily fiber intake in grams per person.

Institute of Medicine fiber recommendations (gram per person per day)

Males: age 9-13: 21 grams; age14 to 50: 38 grams; age 51 and higher: 30 grams

Females: age 9-18: 25 grams; age 19-50: 21 grams; age 51 and higher: 21 grams

Children: age 1-3: 19 grams; age 4-8: 25 grams

Brief history regarding fiber

Sir Dr. Denis Burkitt, the famous English surgeon, examined bowel movements (stools) of African tribes in comparison to his English countrymen and came to the conclusion in the 1940’s that the Western world needed to remedy constipation problems and cancer of the colon problems by eating more fiber.

He is still right: fiber is mainly treating the constipation (not preventing the cancer), but the chemicals that are also in the vegetables contain a multitude of natural anti-carcinogenic substances, which provide the powerful preventative action against colon cancer and many other cancers. Lycopene, not known at the time of Sir Dr. Burkitt is one of these and is found in tomatoes and tomato products.

Old historic observation by Dr. Burkitt still relevant today

Sir Dr. Burkitt’s observation that high bulk foods (like vegetables and green leaves) prevent cancer is as valid today as it was in the mid 1900’s. In the meantime it has become evident that fiber also lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes as well.

What are some of the problems with fiber intake?

Here is a typical day for a Standard American diet:

1. The average breakfast with two toasts, an egg and sausage. This contains 0.7 grams of fiber. The coffee or tea or juice that is consumed contains no fiber.

2. For lunch you may eat a hamburger in a bun and a helping of French fries. There are 2 grams of fiber in the bun and 3.9 grams of fiber in the French fries, a total of 5.9 grams. Alternatively you may want to eat a pepperoni medium pizza: 0 grams of fiber!

The Standard American diet goes on

3. Dinner may consist of one baked potato (3.4 Grams of fiber), beef steak (0 grams of fiber, no matter whether it is an 8 oz. or 10 oz. steak) and mixed vegetables (1 cup, which contains 5 grams of fiber). For dessert you may have a bowl of ice cream (1 gram of fiber). If you eat in a restaurant you also get a bun with butter (0 grams of fiber) plus a small garden salad (0.9 grams of fiber).

4. Snacks during the morning: medium oat bran muffin: 5 grams of fiber

5. Afternoon snack: cinnamon roll: 1 gram of fiber.

Fiber total of the day for Standard American diet

Grand total of the day for Standard American diet: 22.9 grams of fiber. It depends whether or not you consumed the mixed vegetables and the bran muffin. If you did not eat the mixed vegetables and the bran muffin, you may only have consumed 12.9 grams of fiber. If you had pizza for lunch, you only got 7 grams of fiber that day.

Sources of fiber from foods

You can see from these few examples that processed foods tend to have a lot less fiber than vegetables and fruit. Particularly pastas and bread are devoid of fiber, but very rich in calories. So, if we were serious about wanting to increase our fiber content in the food we eat, we need to ensure enough intake of fruit and vegetables that contain fiber. There are many useful websites that list the fiber content per food item: if you look for the fiber content of a medium sized apple using this website, you find that it contains 4 grams of fiber.

This would be a much better snack than an ice cream with no or very little fiber. Here are more fiber suggestions.

How can we increase fiber intake?

We need to think about the whole nutritional equation, how many calories are in food, how much sugar, how much fat and protein. If we want to increase the amount of fiber we take in, we definitely have to watch the sugar content of the food item in question.

For instance ¼ cup of raisins has 2 grams of fiber in it, but also 29 grams of sugar, translating into 130 calories. Conversely, ½ cup of raspberries contains 4.6 grams of fiber and has only 20 calories. This choice is definitely a winner compared to raisins.

Use the Internet to learn about the fiber content of the various foods while you keep an eye on sugar content and calories as well. The idea is to maximize the fiber content in your food intake by cutting out fiber empty foods and adding fiber rich foods as much as possible.

Example of a fiber rich day

1. Breakfast: Omelet with green onions, mushrooms and spinach. Garnish this with ½ avocado and two tablespoons of salsa. The spinach/onion omelet with mushrooms has 3 grams of fiber. ½ avocado provides 5 grams of fiber; the salsa adds 0.6 grams of fiber. Breakfast total: 8.6 grams of fiber.

2. Lunch: Greek salad with turkey breast (4 grams of fiber). Add a snack of one handful (1.5 oz.) of walnuts as desert: 3 grams of fiber. Lunch total: 7 grams of fiber.

The fiber rich day goes on

3. Dinner: Small salad, salmon with broccoli and 1 grilled tomato. Fruit salad for desert. Salad: 0.9 grams of fiber; salmon: 0 grams of fiber; ¾ cup of cooked broccoli: 7 grams of fiber; grilled tomato: 0.6 grams of fiber; fruit salad: 3 grams of fiber. Dinner total: 11.5 grams of fiber.

4. Snacks throughout the day: 1 pear in the morning: 4 grams of fiber; 1 apple in the afternoon: 4 grams of fiber; 1 handful of walnuts: 3 grams of fiber. Snacks total fiber: 11 grams of fiber.

Total of fiber for the fiber rich day: 38.1 grams of fiber.

Fiber math

This is where it is getting interesting. Depending on whether you are a woman aged above or below 50 years or a man aged above or below 50 years, you have different fiber intake requirements as mentioned above. With the fiber rich diet you have exceeded your daily goal easily whether you are a man or a woman above or below 50. You won the race easily. Fiber intake does not mean that you eat fibrous food that tastes like sawdust! This diet example shows you delicious and nutritious food.

Measuring fiber content of food

But with the American Standard diet you barely reached the goal if you ate your mixed vegetables and the bran muffin and you are a woman above or below the age of 50. 22.9 grams of fiber is not enough for a child between the ages of 4 and 8 and it is definitely not enough for a man above or below the age of 50.

Watching what we are eating based on fiber content

This type of math just shows you how deficient our modern Western type food intake is. And if you look at the aspect of it being delicious or even nutritious it leaves a lot to be desired! This is what Sir Dr. Denis Burkitt found when he compared the food intake of civilized English citizens with tribes in the African jungle. He recognized last century that England’s fiber deprived diet compared to the fiber rich diet in Africa was responsible for the much higher colon cancer rates in England. It is only now that we are recognizing the enormity of his investigations.

Cardiovascular significance of high fiber

Apart from reducing colon cancer incidence fiber has also gained recognition for prevention against heart attacks and strokes. It turns out that the enterohepatic pathway is interfered with through the intake of fiber. Cholesterol from bile is bound to fiber in the gut and transported to the sewer instead of being taken up through the enterohepatic pathway, which includes the portal vein system and the liver. The end result is that triglycerides and LDL cholesterol fall, while HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) is raised, and hardening of the arteries slows down significantly. The patient lives longer, heart attack and stroke rates go down, and there is less disability.

Supplement fiber, if you are not getting enough in food

There is good news. Psyllium husk, Metamucil and any other fiber supplement can help you to reach and surpass your daily fiber goal. There is no danger of overdosing as any surplus simply comes out in your stool. You will notice as you increase your fiber intake that your stool volumes go up. Sir Dr. Burkitt actually weighed the stool of patients in Africa and in England: African tribes had voluminous stools, while people in English had much smaller stool volumes. This is how Sir Dr. Burkitt detected the importance of fiber intake.

Example of how to fit fiber into your dietary schedule

Let’s assume you are a male aged 45 years and your diet is a bit better than the average Standard American diet with a daily intake of 25 grams of fiber. Your daily goal is 38 grams of fiber, so you are 13 grams short. You can solve this problem. Get a fiber supplement from the health food store where 1 teaspoon contains about 5 grams of fiber. Be careful: fiber is very thirsty and uses up a lot of water. If you use psyllium husk powder, make sure to add about 1 cup of water to 1 ½ teaspoons of the psyllium husk powder or another similar product. Once you added enough water and stirred well you can drink it down.

Always drink enough fluids to get the fiber down

Between fiber gulps drink some more water to dilute any fiber stuck in your esophagus as it goes down into your stomach. Enough fluid intake is crucial, as the fiber binds fluid in your digestive tract. Repeat this procedure (1 ½ teaspoons of psyllium husk powder with lots of water) at lunchtime. You have now added 15 grams of fiber (2×7.5 grams) to your daily 25 grams of fiber. This brings you to a total of 40 grams of fiber, well above your goal of 38 grams. If you plan to use a fiber supplement it is recommendable that you start with small amounts of fiber. Start  maybe with just one teaspoon per day and increase the amount gradually.

The best is to switch your diet to the fiber rich diet

Your alternative would be to switch your diet to the fibre rich diet described above. Your basic intake was 38.1 grams, just enough to reach your goal. If you want to play it even safer, you may want to add another handful of walnuts (3 grams of fiber) or ¾ teaspoonful of psyllium husk powder with water to bring your total fiber intake to above 41 grams.

With the introduction of the various fiber products that you can buy at the health food store, it is now much easier to manage your total fiber intake.

 

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

Conclusion

In the past few years we heard from cardiologists that heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure could all be helped by much higher fiber intakes. But the public in general has not listened very well to this message. Gastroenterologists also have been urging people to eat more fiber for colon cancer prevention, but many other cancers are also diminished by regular fiber intake. Breast cancer is one of these cancers responding to extra fiber intake. The bottom line is that we all need to pay attention to what we eat. We need to learn how little fiber there is in many foods. The tables can be found online. It may come as a surprise to you that a healthy bowl of tossed salad has only very little fiber. The total fiber content in our food may not add up to what we need (see table above). Simply supplement with psyllium husk powder or another fiber supplement. Do not forget to drink plenty of liquids. This is not only help for those who experience constipation. It is powerful prevention of heart attacks, strokes and many cancers.