May
18
2019

A Pill Against Obesity

At the 26th European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, Scotland a pill against obesity was introduced. Here is a report about this on CNN. The biotechnology company, Gelesis had funded the research. This company also developed the product. The FDA has accepted this product, which is marketed under the name “Plenity”. The FDA gave clearance for Plenity as a prescription weight loss product for use in overweight adults with a body mass index above 25.0. Genesis has announced that Plenity will be available in the US by 2020. The cost of it is yet unknown.

How Plenity, a pill against obesity, works

Plenity actually is a medical device. It is a capsule that contains tiny little gel pieces that dissolve in the stomach. Patients take one capsule with water before lunch and dinner. When the gel pieces swell it gives a fullness feeling that limits calorie intake. The hydrogel pieces increase the volume of the stomach and small intestine. By the time the gel particles arrive in the large intestine, enzymes have partially broken down the hydrogel, water is released and the rest is expelled in the feces. Dr. Ken Fujioka, a weight loss expert, endocrinology researcher at Scripps Clinic and scientific advisor to Gelesis said: ”The most compelling aspects of this approach are its effectiveness, novel mechanism of action and impressive safety data. This approach creates another arm in the treatment algorithm of weight management and could be used by an overwhelming majority of people struggling with weight issues”.

Randomized placebo controlled weight loss study with Plenity

Gelesis sponsored a weight loss study with 223 patients in the experimental group and 213 in the placebo group. The length of the weight loss study was 171 days. The placebo group lost 4.39% body weight, while the group on Plenity lost 6.41%. There were very few side effects, like an abdominal fullness or bloating.

Discussion regarding Plenity, a pill against obesity

Along with taking Plenity the investigators asked the patients to also stay physically active and adhere to a sensible diet. I know from my own experience that a change in diet can make you shed significant weight and you can keep it down. In 2001 I lost 22.7 kg (=50 pounds) over 3 months, down from 85.5 kg. I weigh now 62.8 kg. With this data you can calculate that I lost 22.7/85.5=26.5% of my original weight. I did so in 90 days, not in 171. It was the difference in food intake that enabled me to lose this weight. I had cut out all sugar, starchy foods, processed food and wheat.

The pill will help patients feel full after smaller helpings, instead of having hunger pangs, and this can be valuable and will contribute to being successful with losing weight. But long-term weight control only works with an adjustment of dietary habits and lifestyle choices. 

Keeping weight loss in perspective

The authors stated that their best patients were losing 5% and 10% when they watched their diet and exercised. When I compare my own data (26.5% weight loss) and theirs I conclude that they did not try hard enough. And they did not have to rely on any diet pills. It is clear from the data that the placebo group had significant weight loss with just watching their diet and exercising. I do acknowledge that Plenity has a slightly better effect. However, when people complete with their weight loss program, they will continue to eat their former diet regimen. This will make them gain everything back what they have lost.

For 18 years I have not gained back what I lost in 2001 because I have stayed on the same diet that some people may label as “radical”. There is nothing wrong with vegetables, salads, lean poultry, fish, nuts, fruit etc. I suspect that people could easily lose 10% to 20% of weight without any weight loss pills, if they took a similar approach as I did.

A Pill Against Obesity

A Pill Against Obesity

Conclusion

Weight loss seems to be a topic that is of interest to many people. There is the expectation that the new weight loss pill Plenity will be the solution to people’s diet problems. However, the difference in weight loss between the placebo group and the experimental group was only 2.02%! It took the researchers 171 days to be able to say that there was a significant difference between the Plenity group and the placebo group.

Cutting out junk foods

When I did my own weight loss program based on dietary changes alone I had lost 26.5% in only 90 days. I suggest that people should not forget to change their food intake, cutting out junk food and adopting a healthy food intake. They may not require Plenity pills at all or for a much shorter time. Preparations for the time after the weight loss achievement are necessary or else there will be rebound weight gain. Long-term success is only possible with sensible dietary choices and lifestyle choices, such as regular physical activity.

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May
11
2019

Male Fertility Could Be Improved Naturally

A review article of CNN reviewed how male fertility could be improved naturally. Studies have shown that males contribute about 40 to 50% of the responsibility of any fertility problem of the couple. This means that a couple with infertility issues will benefit from interventions that include the male partner. Dr. Natan Bar-Chama is the director of the Center of Male Reproductive Health in New York. He is a board-certified urologist and male infertility specialist. Dr. Bar-Chama has done research into what affects male fertility. He found that there are several factors that are important for male fertility.

Lifestyle factors

The big factors that interfere with fertility are obesity, caffeine and alcohol intake, smoking, marijuana intake, lack of exercise and wearing too tight underwear resulting in increased scrotal temperature.

Obesity

Overconsumption of refined carbs like sugar and processed foods leads to obesity. The best for him is to change his diet to a Mediterranean diet. This supports weight loss and at the same time improves sperm quality.

Obese men tend to father children that often are not viable. It may be that it is due to genetic changes in the sperm in obese men. These changes can affect fertilization, but also embryo development. Researchers have detected sperm DNA fragmentation in sperm from obese men, which can lead to pregnancy loss. Weight loss in obese men improves sperm quality.

Caffeine and alcohol intake

More than 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day relates directly to difficulties for a couple to conceive. When it comes to alcohol intake, the male should not drink more than one glass of wine or the equivalent of alcohol in beer or spirits per day. Higher consumption results in male infertility due to poor sperm quality. Physicians have warned women for a long time that they should stop drinking alcoholic beverages, if they want to become pregnant. It is best, if both partners don’t drink for the sake of a healthy pregnancy.

Smoking

Stop tobacco and drug use. Smoking and drug abuse have been consistently shown to be bad for sperm quality and are associated with infertility. Marijuana use leads to low sperm counts, which is a cause of infertility.

Lack of exercise

Moderate aerobic exercise and resistance exercise can improve sperm quality.

However, excessive exercise has shown negative effects on sperm. Bicycling for 5 hours or more has been shown to reduce sperm quality due to the heating up of the scrotum and the testicular tissue. For the same reason men wearing boxer shorts instead of tight underpants were observed to have higher sperm concentration and sperm counts.

Antioxidants

Oxidative stress can damage sperm. This involves smoking, a junk food diet, obesity, pollution, radiation and heavy metals like mercury from big game fish (like tuna, shark, sable fish, sword fish etc.). Dr. Bar-Chama said: ”When you cause damage to cell membranes, you are impacting the ability of the sperm to attach, penetrate and activate the complex fertilization process”. In order to counter these negative effects of the environment it is helpful to take antioxidants.

Some of the common antioxidants are: vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, folic acid, lycopene and coenzyme Q-10. If you get 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, you get most of the antioxidant vitamins and minerals. You find selenium in Brazil nuts, sardines and halibut. Oysters, dark-meat poultry, crab, and fortified cereals contain zinc, which supports male fertility.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and seafood has been shown to increase the success rate of couples who want to get pregnant. Low mercury seafood like scallops, clams, shrimp, oyster, sardines, salmon and squid are a good source of omega-3 fatty acid.

Get some nuts

A handful of nuts or two also helps the male to produce more healthy sperm. This study showed that nut consumption improved the total sperm count. In addition, it increased vitality, motility, and morphology of the sperm.

Cut out processed meats

Another study showed that consumption of processed meat had a negative association with fertility rates in couples that desired children. However, eating chicken instead of processed meat gave the fertility rates a boost.

 

Male Fertility Could Be Improved Naturally

Male Fertility Could Be Improved Naturally

Conclusion

We have been lulled into thinking that when there are fertility problems in a marriage, it would likely be due to female reproductive problems. This kind of thinking is old school and has been disqualified by newer research. It turns out that often the problem originates from the man, if he is unwilling to change his lifestyle to get ready to father a child. As outlined above there are quite a few factors that interfere with sperm production and motility of the sperm. If he wants to father a child, he needs to take good care of his sperm by adopting healthy lifestyles. Sperm, it turns out are much more vulnerable to toxic changes, heat from tight clothing, and nutritional deficiencies.

Healthy food for the man results in a healthy child

Not everything is exclusively the responsibility of the female. The male also needs to eat balanced meals and might also benefit from some antioxidants and supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids from nuts and seafood are also good for sperm production and motility. Add some moderate physical exercise, and he will be ready to father a child. It is very much a team effort, as both parents- to- be have to do their part and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

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Mar
30
2019

Obesity Fuels Cancer Development

A recent review by the American Cancer Society found that obesity fuels cancer development. As a matter of fact, what the researchers found was that younger millennials are more in danger of both getting obese and of getting obesity related cancers. Also, the rates of baby boomers with respect to obesity-related cancer were much lower than rates from millennials.

Results of the study showing obesity fuels cancer development

In like manner, as the summary by CNN shows, there is an increase of obesity and also an increase of various cancers of the population of millennials versus the same age group among baby boomers. As an illustration, take pancreatic cancer, one of the obesity related cancers. Normally it occurs in people above the age of 65. Here is the increase of frequencies according to age group:

Ages 25 to 29: 4.34% increase.

People aged 30 to 34: 2.47% increase.

Age bracket 35 to 39: 1.31% increase.

Those aged 40 to 44 years: 0.72% increase.

With this in mind you can see clearly that the younger age group is at a higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Certainly, the problem is that obesity in children has become more rampant and this has led to early obesity by the age of 35. The other side of the coin in this case is an increased pancreatic cancer rate.

Other cancers that are obesity-related

Indeed, 6 out of 12 obesity related cancers have shown an increase in frequency because of increasing obesity. These cancers are: multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer.

Notably, people born around 1985 had a higher rate of multiple myeloma and kidney cancer than people born around 1950. Multiple myeloma was 1.59-fold higher and kidney cancer 4.91-fold higher in the group of people born around 1985 in comparison to people born around 1950.

Cancer associated with obesity, but may not be caused by obesity

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Dr. George Chang, who was not associated with the analysis cautioned: “The study was not set up to establish causation. We know there are many factors that have an association with both obesity and cancer, such as lack of exercise and poor diet. How much each of those factors contribute to cancer is less clear.” Specifically, the study found that the rate of obesity-related cancers in millennials now is about double the rate of what it was in baby-boomers at the same age.

Discussion of the obesity and cancer problem

  1. First of all, obesity is now starting in childhood, teenagers and young adults. 5 of the 6 obesity related cancers (colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreatic cancer) have increased in the younger population. These require mostly surgery and according to Dr. Chang, who is an oncological surgeon, complication rates are higher among obese patients. Dr. Chang added that chances are also that complications will be more severe.
  2. Secondly, we need government-sponsored programs to reverse the obesity trend. This should include changing the diet from the Standard American diet (essentially junk food) to a Mediterranean diet. There should be an elimination of sugar and starchy foods or the use should be just a bare minimum. Reducing or even eliminating red meat is definitely necessary. The WHO has determined that beef, pork and lamb are causing cancer, because they contain weak carcinogens.  Coupled with this is the necessity to initiated regular exercise programs.
  3. Thirdly, fatty tissue in obese patients release growth factors and proteins that function as hormone-like factors stimulating cell growth. These factors stimulate any carcinogenic process. Researchers are still actively working on analyzing this process further.
Obesity Fuels Cancer Development

Obesity Fuels Cancer Development

Conclusion

Childhood obesity has already had the result that obesity-related cancers (multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer) occur at a younger age and more frequently. The cancer rate among obese millennials now is already double the number of what the baby-boomers was at the same age. The key is to treat obesity aggressively with regular fitness programs and with a major diet shift. We know what caused the obesity wave. It is overconsumption of sugar, junk foods, starchy foods, processed foods and fat overuse.

A major change in diet

This means the kids need to cut out sugar. An alternative is to sweeten only with stevia, if they need a sweet taste. They also need to cut out starchy foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and processed food. Processed food contains a lot of sugar and gluten from wheat. Gluten and sugar both stimulate the appetite center. This is what we want to avoid. What remains is a Mediterranean diet without the junk from the North American diet. You end up eating a lot of vegetables, salads and fruit. Fish is a good protein source, poultry as well. Implementing these changes will show positive results for the health of the entire population, not only the millennials.

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Jan
24
2019

Death By Fried Chicken

A new study has shown that when you eat one piece of fried chicken per day, you risk “death by fried chicken”.

Details of a postmenopausal women study

This was a study by the same group that published the Women’s Health Initiative. Participants were asked whether they would take part in a dietary prospective study published in the British Medical Journal January 2019.

93,676 women were part of the study, and researchers observed them for an average of 17.9 years. There were 9,320 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 8,358 deaths from cancer, and 13,880 deaths from other causes.

Here are the results for all cause mortality

Total fried food consumption: 1% risk for less than 1 serving per week

3% risk for 2 to 3 servings per week

3% risk for 3 to 6 servings per week

8% risk for eating at least 1 serving per day

Fried chicken consumption:     6% risk for less than 2 servings per month

12% risk for 2 to 3 servings per month

13% risk for at least 1 serving per week

Fried fish/shellfish consumption: 7% risk for at least 1 serving per week

Risk factors for cardiovascular mortality

The following are the risk factors for cardiovascular mortality of the consumer of fried chicken or fish.

8% risk for less than 2 servings per month

17% risk for 2 to 3 servings per month

12% risk for at least 1 serving per week

Fried fish/shell fish consumption.: 13% risk for at least 1 serving per week

Cancer mortality from fried foods was not that clear. Here are two interesting statistics.

Cancer mortality for fried fish consumption

-8% risk for less than 3 servings per month.

Other fried food consumption:

+9% risk for less than 2 servings per month.

Discussion of the results

This has been an extensive prospective study involving a large amount of postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative. In addition the observation time was very long, namely an average of 17.9 years. These properties give the study an unusually strong statistical significance. The following features are noteworthy.

Comparing fried chicken with fried fish/shell fish

Fried chicken, prepared in the US in 40 different states has a risk of 17% to cause a heart attack or a stroke for persons that consume two or three servings per month.

Fried fish/shell fish only has a risk of 13% when eaten once per week of causing a heart attack or stroke.

Comparison between this study and a Spanish study

The authors discussed that their findings are different from a Spanish study that found no increased cardiovascular risk of deep fried chicken. They pointed out that in Spain the oil used for deep-frying is usually olive oil while in the US it is mostly corn oil. Frying causes the process of oxidation and hydrogenation, which leads to a loss of unsaturated fatty acids. Linoleic acid experiences a reduction and a corresponding trans fatty acid formation. The end result is that the concentration of trans linoleic acid increases. This may be an important factor increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes in the US where the use of corn oil is common for deep-frying, but not in Spain where chefs use olive oil instead. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acid and stable with cooking.

Comparison between fried fish consumption and other fried food

There was a less than average cancer risk (-8%) when fried fish consumption was compared to other fried food consumption. With other fried food consumption a +9% risk for cancer mortality was found. This is a spread of 17%. Frying fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids may neutralize the cancer causing effect from frying other foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are natural anti-oxidants. This may be the reason why fried fish/shell fish did not cause excessive cancer deaths.

Other considerations

The authors did not delve into the quality of the chicken meat in the US fast food industry. It is known that chicken farmers use an arsenic compound (“3-nitro”) for faster growth and prevention of infections among crowded living conditions of the birds.  3-nitro is a carcinogen, which contributes to cancer toxicity in humans as non-organic chicken meat contains it.

It likely would be wiser to buy organic chicken and pan-fry it in olive oil. Alternatively you may want to BBQ chicken at a low temperature.

Death By Fried Chicken

Death By Fried Chicken

Conclusion

Buying deep fried chicken from a fast food outlet is a favorite for many Americans. This study shows clearly that it is deep fried chicken that causes the highest heart attack and stroke mortalities in the US. But “death by fried chicken” does not have to be. The problem may be that the kitchen used the wrong fats to prepare deep fried chicken. In a similar study in Spain there was no increase in cardiovascular risk when cooks used olive oil for deep-frying chicken.

Alternative to buying fast food

The small extra step of buying organic chicken and preparing it at home in a frying pen with olive oil will pay big health dividends. Similarly, fish and shellfish prepared in olive oil at home will also not have any risks for you. A lot of people rave about the convenience of buying deep fried food and in this case deep fried chicken. This article, however, shows that it is time that we take at least some control back in our own hands to prepare healthy food for our families and ourselves. It is a poor trade to choose convenience over health!

Jan
05
2019

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Dr. Barrie Tan gave a talk about health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols that I attended. This occurred at the 26th Anti-Aging Conference of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas (Dec. 13-15, 2018).

First of all, Dr. Tan stressed that there has been some confusion about vitamin E, as in the past the school of thought was that the main active ingredient of vitamin E would be alpha-tocopherol. Furthermore, many clinical trials with this ingredient go back to the 1960’s, which showed antioxidant activity. But further research revealed that there were many other tocopherols and isomers of tocotrienols. What is worse is that beneficial cardiovascular effects of the newer tocotrienols became null and void through traces of alpha-tocopherol in the mix.

Finally, this led to purer vitamin E production without alpha-tocopherol contamination. Recent clinical trials found that health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols are linked to delta- and gamma-tocotrienols. They were many times more active in preventing heart attacks and strokes than former mixes of vitamin E.

Annatto derived tocotrienol

In 2002 scientists were able to extract pure tocotrienol without contamination of alpha-tocopherol from annatto. Prior to this vitamin E came from rice and the red palm fruit. But rice contained 50% of tocopherols, while the red palm fruit contained 25% of it.

Here are several sources of vitamin E. The components of tocopherols and tocotrienols vary depending on the source as follows.

Rice: 50% tocopherols (inactive or antagonistic), 15% alpha- and beta-tocotrienols (less active); 35% delta- and gamma-tocotrienols (most active).

Red palm fruit oil: 25% tocopherols, 25% alpha- and beta-tocotrienols, 50% delta- and gamma-tocotrienols.

Annatto: 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols.

Subsequent research was able to discern between the detrimental effect of alpha-tocopherol and the protecting effect of delta- and gamma-tocotrienols. Now the recommendation of Dr. Tan is to use only annatto-derived vitamin E to prevent heart attacks and strokes. He called annatto-derived vitamin E the vitamin E for the 21st century.

Tocopherol interfering with action of tocotrienols

Dr. Tan explained that alpha-tocopherol blocks absorption of tocotrienols from the gut. It also prevents storage of tocotrienols in liver and fatty tissue. By itself alpha-tocopherol leads to premature elimination of prescription drugs. It also increases blood pressure and cholesterol. What is worse is that alpha-tocopherol increases the risk of prostate cancer and glioblastoma in humans. It also decreases bone mass and increases LDL oxidation, which leads to accelerated hardening of the arteries.

Action of tocotrienols

In contrast to tocopherols, tocotrienols (particularly the delta and gamma isomers) have all the attributes that you want from vitamin E. It has the highest anti-oxidant properties among the tocotrienols. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienols accumulate in LDL cholesterol and in lipid-rich organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen and skin. Abdominal adipose tissue from obesity also stores delta- and gamma-tocotrienols.

Tocotrienol’s antioxidant activity

When you use a vitamin E preparation consisting of only delta- and gamma-tocotrienols, the portion of vitamin E contained in cell membranes protects against oxidation. Vitamin E  also protects lipids from omega-3 supplements and lipids in foods and beverages from oxidation. Tocotrienols are about 50-fold more potent as antioxidants compared to tocopherols. Based on this information it is not by chance that the following statistics were the results of clinical trials.

Cholesterol lowering effect of vitamin E delta- and gamma-tocotrienols

Dr. Tan cited a 6-week placebo controlled clinical study where the anti-oxidant power was measured in terms of reduction of LDL and total cholesterol.

A group of elderly patients were divided into a subgroup that had normal levels of cholesterol and another subgroup with elevated lipid levels. After 6 weeks of taking a vitamin E preparation consisting of 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols the blood levels dropped as follows.

Hypercholesterolemic group:    LDL cholesterol    Triglycerides       CRP

                                                          20-28%                11-18%         31-48%

In healthy elderly patients the CRP still dropped 21-29%. Gamma-glutamyl transferase, a predictor for heart attacks dropped by 14-20%.

Another study on postmenopausal women for 12 weeks also showed beneficial effects of tocotrienols.

Hardening of arteries

Dr. Tan explained that hardening of arteries is due to a combination of factors. It is due to combined chronic inflammation and deposits of LDL cholesterol in the wall of the arteries. Studies have shown that monocyte adherence is the first step in fatty streak formation in arteries. Delta-tocotrienol is 60 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol in inhibiting monocyte adherence. Gamma-tocotrienol is 30 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol. This proves that taking a vitamin E preparation of 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols is the most advantageous vitamin E combination to take.

Health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols include hardening of carotid artery

A 4-year study examined the effect of taking 240mg of tocotrienol-tocopherol supplementation. 88% of patients who took the vitamin E supplement showed improvement (regression of the carotid artery stenosis). Placebo patients deteriorated 60%, only 8% improved. In the 4th year of the study total cholesterol decreased by 14% and LDL cholesterol fell by 21%.

Health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols include type 2 diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes received tocotrienols. Within 60 days of taking 250 mg of tocotrienols the serum total lipids were reduced by 23% and total cholesterol by 30%. The LDL cholesterol was reduced by 42%. Triglycerides were also lowered by 15-20%. C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation was lowered between 35-60%.

Beneficial effects of tocotrienols on the eyes and skin

Tocotrienols have antioxidant effects on the eyes and skin. With regard to eye diseases glaucoma and cataracts are improving and macular degeneration in diabetics is responding as well.

The subcutaneous fatty tissue absorb tocotrienols well. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienol largely neutralize oxidative stress from UV light and ozone.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

This condition has a close association with obesity and the metabolic syndrome. The liver stores excessive fats. About 30-40% of US adults suffer from this disease. Researchers conducted a 12-week study with 71 NAFLD patients. It was randomized, double blind and placebo-controlled. After 12 weeks of supplementation with delta- and gamma-tocotrienol there was evidence of reduction of stress on the liver by improved liver enzymes. The ALT and AST enzymes were reduced by 15-16%. There was also an 11% reduction of triglycerides and 18% lowering of CRP, which indicates a reduction of inflammation. The fatty liver index score showed a decrease of 11%. This suggests that there was intrahepatic fat reduction. The group with delta- and gamma-tocotrienol supplements lost on average 9.7 pounds. Here is another study regarding non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and using tocotrienols.

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Conclusion

Vitamin E supplementation is undergoing rejuvenation after research has established that it is delta- and gamma-tocotrienol that are the active antioxidants among the 10 or so tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers. The most active of them, delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, have excellent absorption in the gut and migrate through the blood stream to the lipid rich cells in the body. Key organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen and skin accumulate vitamin E. Even the abdominal adipose tissue takes up vitamin E, which is beneficial when a person becomes obese or develops diabetes. Apart from lowering triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, vitamin E (delta- and gamma-tocotrienol) is also important for directly interfering with hardening of the arteries.

Vitamin E protecting skin, eyes and liver

Vitamin E also protects the skin and eyes against UV light. There can be a partial reversal of tissue damages. Finally, I pointed out that vitamin E can reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is important to leave out alpha-tocopherol, which is an older form of vitamin E that is cheaper to produce, but will interfere with the function of delta- and gamma-tocotrienol as explained. As I mentioned earlier, various vitamin E supplements are on the market. It is obvious that they are not equally beneficial.

I recommend you take about 125 mg of vitamin E in the form of delta- and gamma-tocotrienol every day. I take Annatto tocotrienols (Cardiovascular Research Ltd.) 1 softgel daily.

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Dec
22
2018

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Biological age is different from the chronological age said professor Morgan Levine from Yale Medical School. She is working in the department of pathology. She has found in her research that people of the same chronological age have very different biological ages. From a biological standpoint they may be much younger or older than their chronological age. When people are younger than their chronological age, they have less disease and less mortality. This article has reviewed the facts.

Measuring biological age

Dr. Levine also has developed tools how to determine the biological age. And when the biological age is higher than the chronological age, she recommends lifestyle changes that will set back the biological clock. We age differently according to what we eat, how our genetic make-up is, which we cannot change, whether we are physically active and what environmental toxins we are exposed to. So, the biological age determines our health status and what our final life expectancy will be.

Biomarkers for biological age

A simple blood test that your family doctor can order consists of the following. A fasting blood sugar, kidney and liver tests, immune tests and inflammatory tests. In addition the doctor will want to know whether you are smoking or not, how much alcohol you consume and how much red meat and processed meat you eat. A computer program processes these results, which determines your biological age.

Lifestyle improvements can lower biological age

Biological age testing has a strength built in. By changing your lifestyle you can lower it. When you exercise more regularly and switch to eating a Mediterranean diet you can lower your biological age. Other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory. A telomere test, which also determines the biological age, is fixed. It is not easily changed by dietary measures and increasing your exercise.

Dr. Levine said: “I think the most exciting thing about this research is that these things aren’t set in stone.”

Putting the biological age to the test

Dr. Levine was curious what her own biological age was. She entered her blood test data and lifestyle facts into the computer. She was surprised that her biological age was not as good as her first assumption. Now she is trying to get more sleep, has increased her exercise level and improved her diet.

Her research team is working on getting the algorithm online so that everyone will be able to put one’s blood tests and other data into the computer program and calculate the biological age. The program will also recommend what steps are likely most helpful to increase one’s health and decrease the biological age.

Lower your biological age

No one wants to live a long life, if they are in pain and have various illnesses like arthritis or Alzheimer’s. But things are different, if they can change lifestyle factors and maintain a low biological age for a long time. Now they can stay active, have no pains and are able to contribute to society.

“By delaying the onset of diseases and cognitive and physical functioning problems people can still be engaged in society,” Dr. Levine said. “I think that is the ideal we should be striving for.”

Other literature about biological age

Inflammation increases the biological age

In this publication the authors stressed that inflammation is the common denominator for developing disease and premature aging. The authors stress further that it is mandatory to change one’s lifestyle to lower the biological age and live longer.

Diastolic blood pressure predicts mortality

In an older study the diastolic blood pressure was related to mortality. The higher the diastolic blood pressure was, the higher the mortality.  The authors also noted that it was the persons with the higher biological age who were at the highest risk of dying.

Scientific study about the predictors for the biological age

Here is a scientific study that examines predictors for the biological age.  This is not easy reading, but I placed it here for completeness sake.

Link to a site that can calculate your biological age

Here is a link to a site that calculates your biological age. It is probably not as good as Dr. Levine’s computer analysis will be when it is available. However, it is a good approximation to what it will be like.

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Conclusion

The dream of staying younger for longer is not new. Research has shown that we actually can do something about it. If we look after our lifestyle, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively, eat a sensible Mediterranean-type diet and exercise regularly, our biological age will be less than our chronological age. It is the biological age that determines how old we get and whether or not we will suffer from age-related illnesses. Researchers also found out that when your biological age is younger than your actual age mortality will occur later. The math is simple. Let’s assume that your biological age is 15 to 20 years younger than your chronological age. As the average life expectancy presently is 80 years, your life expectancy can increase to 95 or 100 years.

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Nov
24
2018

Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Health

There is a lot of discussion about the fact that intermittent fasting may benefit health. But there are a confusing variety of intermittent fasting schedules. This makes it difficult to compare notes regarding the specific effect of an intermittent fasting diet. Generally speaking when there is some form of calorie restriction, our body goes into a survival mode of operating. These types of diets provide enough nutrients to not get into malnutrition, but at the same time they may stimulate sirtuins, particularly SIR2. This is thought to be associated with longevity.

Various forms of fasting

Eating after 5 PM

The Taylors in the CNN article eat the same amount of calories, but they only eat after 5PM. They claim to have more energy and be less vulnerable to infections. They also think that they feel younger than in the past.

Fasting every other day

This was an observation in the 1980’s to help rats live longer compared to rats that have food available every day. Recent experiments on mice showed similar results: calorie restriction in whatever form leads to prolonged life and health.

Human fasting mimicking diet

A 2017 study on 100 humans divided this group into half. One half ate any food as they wished. The other half consumed only 800 to 1100 calories for 5 days of each month as a fasting mimicking diet. The experimental group had lower fasting blood sugars; cholesterol, triglycerides and other heart disease markers went down. The IGF-1 markers for various cancers also went down. The experimental group lost abdominal fat, but preserved lean body mass. Valter Longo, who co-authored the clinical study said that a human trial on longevity would almost be impossible to design, and would cost “a hundred million dollars or more. But if you look at the data from our trial … it would be hard to see how they would not live longer.”

5:2 diet

Patients are allowed to eat what they want for 5 days of the week, but then they restrict their diet for 2 consecutive days. The control group had no restriction of calories. The 5:2 experimental group had better glucose control and loss of abdominal fat than the control group.

Fasting can help you live-longer

Experts on calorie-restricted diets tell us that there is a switch in metabolism from burning glucose as fuel to using ketones as fuel. Extended periods of exercise will also cause a switch to using ketones as fuel. Repeated cycling from fasting to eating may also benefit our brain function. Intermittent fasting will help us cope better with stress and disease. But Dr. Longo says that this is only one aspect. He found in his research that with intermittent calorie restriction there is a multi-system regeneration going on. For instance, damaged white blood cells are depleted, stem cells are activated, blood sugar control is improved and heart risk factors are being controlled. Dr. Longo mentioned that when tissues are healthy and functional, risk factors for disease decrease.

Mechanisms behind longevity

Dr. Longo explained in detail the complex aging pathways that involve three components, IGF-1, mTOR and PKA. When lifestyle choices stimulate these genetic markers, accelerated aging is the consequence. But with the inhibition of those markers longevity will happen. Here are some of the effects on the body of a fasting mimicking diet.

  • Obesity diminishes, because of the weight loss effect due to missing calories.
  • Diabetes: insulin resistance becomes lower and blood sugar levels drop.
  • High blood pressure reduced: many patients were able to reduce their medications or discontinue them
  • Pain conditions improve as all kinds of pain disappears, an effect for which there is no explanation at this point
  • Autoimmune diseases like MS and rheumatoid arthritis improve, likely because of the effect of increased stem cell circulation
  • Prevention of heart attacks and strokes because of reduction of LDL, triglycerides and CRP
  • Cancer cure rates improve by protecting normal cells and the bone marrow
  • Longevity improved in mice with a 3-fold increase of their life span. Telomere length in humans was increased. Increased stem cells will find defective areas that need repair. This effect will open up a new chapter in medicine.
Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Health

Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Health

Conclusion

Calorie restriction is a powerful method to rejuvenate the body. Surprisingly 5 days out of one month of a calorie restricted fasting mimicking diet is all that is necessary to improve the body’s metabolism. Telomeres get increased, damaged white blood cells are removed and stem cells get stimulated. But weight loss, improvement of pain perception and cardiovascular risk reduction take place as well. In mice longevity was significantly prolonged, but this needs to still be shown in humans.

One can think of an intermittent fasting mimicking diet as a kind of internal cleansing. Following this it is easier to restart the metabolism with clean ingredients.

So far I have followed 11 courses of the fasting mimicking diet. But I don’t buy boxes of 300.00 USD every month. Instead I count calories myself, keep the diet balanced and buy the ingredients in the health food store. I agree that the fasting mimicking diet seems to be effective and it helps to keep my body mass index under control.

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Nov
17
2018

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

There are fewer carcinogens in organic food, which is likely why consumption of organic food reduces cancer risk. In an extensive study from France a large number of patients received questionnaires about their organic food intake.

The study was also reviewed by CNN using more popular language to describe the findings.

The French study showing that consumption of organic food reduces cancer risk

68,946 French adults were recruited for the study. More than ¾ of the study population were women in their mid 40’s. Researchers divided these subjects into 4 groups depending on how many of 16 organic food groups they were consuming.

First of all, the type of foods included fruit and vegetables, ready-to-eat meals, meat and fish, vegetable oils and condiments, dietary supplements and other products. Also, the investigators followed this population for an average of 4 ½ years. Finally, during that time 1,340 cancers developed. 459 breast cancers occurred, 180 prostate cancers, 135 skin cancers, 99 colorectal cancers and 47 non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Most noteworthy, those who ate the most organic food developed 25% less cancer on average. When it came to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, organic food consumers developed 73% less of it than people on regular food. Postmenopausal breast cancer was 21% less frequent among those who had the highest use of organic food.

There are a number of factors regarding non-organic food that should make us pause to think.

Antibiotic use in agriculture

Milk and milk products are not as innocent as in the past when no marketing boards were around. Animals are no longer freely roaming on green pastures, but they exist in high-density facilities and they need antibiotics to prevent infectious illnesses. So the story goes. In reality farmers have found out that antibiotics and bovine growth hormone will both increase milk production. The manufacturers apply the profit principle and the result is that the consumers of milk and milk products have a change of their bowel flora from the antibiotic residues, which can cause heart attacks. The bovine growth hormone from milk and milk products causes breast cancer and prostate cancer. If you buy organic milk and milk products, you will not consume bovine growth hormone or antibiotic residues.

Immune disruptors

We know for several decades that insecticides used in agriculture on a large scale are accumulating in the body of the consumer and act as immune disruptors. The farmer feels he has to defend his crop against insects and sprays with various insecticides. Among the fruit with heavy spray residues are strawberries and apples.

Heavy metals

A study of the Consumer Reports’ from August 2018 examined baby foods. High levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium were detected in baby foods. Exposure to even low levels of heavy metals can lower a child’s IQ by 5 points.  Heavy metals have shown an association to behavior problems, to autism and to causing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A study from New Zealand looked at how people who were exposed 4 decades earlier to heavy metals were doing when having an average age of 38 years.  565 New Zealanders showed measurements of high levels of heavy metals as children. Their IQ’s were lower than the average for their age and their socioeconomic status was below that of their parents.

Arsenic levels also high in organic food

It seems like heavy metals were high in both non-organic and organic baby food samples. Arsenic rice comes from inadvertent, but deliberate human poisoning. The Consumers Report explains that high arsenic values showed up in rice grown in these states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas. These are the same states, where cotton plantation covered the countryside in the past. The U.S. has been the world’s leading user of arsenic. Since 1910 farmers used about 1.6 million tons for agricultural purposes. Since the mid-1960’s they used only half of this amount. Although there was a ban of arsenic use as an insecticide in the 1980’s, residues from the decades of previous arsenic use still linger on in agricultural soil today. If organic rice is grown in these 4 contaminated states, it is not unexpected that even organic rice would contain high levels of arsenic.

Rice grown in previous cotton plantation areas contaminated by arsenic

The south-central region of the US was an area where cotton was the mainstay of agriculture for a long time. This is a crop where heavy treatment with arsenical pesticides was in use for decades in an attempt to combat the boll weevil beetle.

Rice was particularly high in arsenic, both in baby food as well as in adult food. Basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan had on average half the amount of arsenic. Sushi rice from the U.S. was also low in arsenic.

Arsenic in chicken

A subsidiary of Pfizer produced the arsenic-containing drug, Roxarsone. This is an organic arsenic compound that accumulates in the liver of chickens. A synonym for Roxarsone is “3-nitro”. The full chemical name is 3-Nitro-4-hydroxyphenylarsonic acid.

When you read the fine print of the FDA website, it reveals that originally it allowed 3-Nitro® to be marketed in 1944 based on negative toxicity studies on rodents. The drug was approved again in 2009 for combination use with other drugs for suppression of coccidiosis, a cause of diarrhea in chickens. As 3-nitro is an organic arsenic compound. Researchers in the past believed that it would be non-toxic. So, the assumption was that it was safe to allow this feed supplement for chickens. It turns out that with more sensitive newer testing methods scientists from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) examiners found that organic arsenic compound metabolize in the chicken into cancer-causing inorganic arsenic compounds.

Chicken farmers use arsenic compounds to stimulate growth and to prevent the transmission of infectious diarrhea. If you don’t want to be a victim of the industry, I suggest you switch to organic chicken. It will be arsenic-free.

The “dirty dozen”

Originally the most polluted fruit and vegetables were termed the “dirty dozen”, but now the list is longer and includes 15 of the most polluted crop. They are: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas (imported), potatoes, hot peppers, kale, and collards.

It is common knowledge for some time that certain foods contain more pesticide residues than others. Some of these fruit and vegetables contain between 13 and 15 different pesticides from spraying. Potatoes rank on top of all of the crops with high contamination.

Why is it important to know which crop has high pesticide contamination? Pesticides are immune disruptors. On the one hand vegetables are healthy for us, on the other hand they contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens. They are are causing breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. If you replace all of these highly contaminated fruit and vegetables with organic ones, you will have reduced your cancer risk by 25%!

GMO foods and Roundup

It is interesting that there is no law in the US and in Canada that GMO foods should have a label declaring that it is genetically modified. This is changing rapidly as people realize that in many countries of Europe all GMO foods require labeling. Here is a publication that shows that the GMO labeling campaign is gaining momentum.

Genetically modified corn and soy contains the Bt toxin; it has been found in babies as mentioned in this article. Bt toxin damages the small bowel (the ileum) through Cry1Ab (the protein produced in genetically modified corn and soy). This in turn disables the absorption of vitamin B12. We know that this in turn will cause anemia. Historically the cause of pernicious anemia was due to a lack of vitamin B12 absorption.

Effects of Roundup

In a publication dated April 2013 Drs. Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff discuss the effects of Roundup. They noticed that glyphosate inhibits the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in the liver. This is a crucial detoxification enzyme complex. When toxicity studies of glyphosate in mammals emerged, this was not common knowledge. The CYP enzymes in the liver are important to metabolize and eliminate estrogens and also help to detoxify xenobiotics, which are estrogen-like substances (residues from insecticides). Thus glyphosate (=”Roundup”) amplifies the damaging effect of environmental toxins and chemical residues from non-organic food that we eat. Researchers have shown a build-up of estrogens and xenoestrogens that are responsible for the development of many cancers (atypical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer etc.). Based on this data it makes sense to switch to as much organic food as you can afford. At least stay away from the “dirty dozen”!

Changing over to organic food, as consumption of organic food reduces cancer risk

If you want to avoid Roundup, xenoestrogens and GMO foods, you need to switch from regular foods to mostly organic foods. Throw out all the foods in your fridge that are not organic and that contain MSG in it’s many disguises. MSG is an excitotoxin, which kills brain cells. These suggestions are also what Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton is recommending.

Organic foods do not contain any of the problematic GM foods. They are free of rBGH, xenoestrogens, residual herbicides or residual insecticides. Switch to either organic milk and milk products or goat milk and goat milk products. Another choice would be “milk” products based on pea protein, but not on soy protein. As fatty tissue releases some toxins, it is advisable to use psyllium seed husks as a fibre source supplement to bind the toxins in the gut for elimination.

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Conclusion

A French study involved 68,946 French adults; the researchers observed them for an average of 4 ½ years. They were divided into 4 groups depending on how many of 16 organic food groups they were consuming. During that time 1,340 cancers developed. 459 breast cancers occurred, 180 prostate cancers, 135 skin cancers, 99 colorectal cancers and 47 non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Consequently, the researchers found that those who were eating the most organic foods developed 25% less cancer on average.

When it came to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, organic food consumers developed 73% less of it than people on regular food. Postmenopausal breast cancer was 21% less frequent among the highest consuming organic food group.

Switching to organic food

I explained in detail how these cancer statistics come from traces of arsenic in chicken and rice, xenoestrogens from pesticide residues in non-organic vegetables, heavy metals, GMO produce and Roundup. It is time to take food seriously and switch to organic food. I have done this since 2001. Read labels carefully. Manufacturers often use the term “natural” to give a product a virtuous gloss-over. If you find that not all fruit or vegetables are readily available as organic produce, stay away from the “dirty dozen” and make use of the “clean fifteen”. You have a good variety to choose from: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas (as long as they are not genetically modified), asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

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.

Aug
18
2018

Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

A new study from the Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont. showed that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s. Specifically the risk for Alzheimer’s was a combination of high saturated fats in the diet in combination with too much sugar.

The third triggering factor was the normal aging process that also contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s.

The study showing that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

Master student Bradley Baranowski and PhD student Kirsten Bott conducted the experiments under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Rebecca MacPherson. The experimental group consisted of middle-aged mice that were observed for 13 weeks. They received a high-fat/high-sugar diet. The control group received a normal diet.

The experimental group with the high fat/high sugar diet was aging prematurely. They also showed elevated inflammatory markers, elevated insulin levels and cellular stress. Dr.MacPherson mentioned that the middle-aged mice would be comparable to humans aged 40 to 60. “[We’re] trying to see what the initiating signals are that can lead to progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” MacPherson said.

Lifestyle choices matter

“People often view Alzheimer’s disease as a genetic disease when in fact, genetic mutations leading to Alzheimer’s accounts for less than five per cent of cases,” Baranowski said in the press release. “This study highlights that our lifestyle choices matter and can potentially put us at risk of developing or progressing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Other studies that support the concept that lifestyles matter

Over the years many other researchers have analyzed what factors contribute to getting Alzheimer’s. It probably is a combination of several factors.

Age

Age is one of the major risk factors. Most Alzheimer’s patients are above the age of 65. Above 65 the risk doubles every 5 years. By the time we are 85 our risk is 1/3 to get it.

Family history

If you have a parent, brother or sister who came down with Alzheimer’s, you have a higher risk of getting it.

Environmental factors

Often environmental factors like eating too much sugar or too much saturated fat are confused with family history factors. Nutritional habits in a family can be like a tradition. It may appear as if this is a family history of Alzheimer’s when in reality poor eating habits were passed on from generation to generation. A lot more research is necessary in this area.

History of Head injury

A history of a closed head injury carries with it a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. We need to use seat belts in cars and helmets when bicycling. Avoid risky sports activities where you would sustain a traumatic brain injury.

Heart disease

There is a link between heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s. When brain arteries get clogged, the brain deposits more beta-amyloid protein as plaques. This is a sign of early Alzheimer’s disease.

Older Latinos and older African Americans

Older Latinos have a 1 ½-times higher risk than older whites to get Alzheimer’s and dementia. On the other hand older African-Americans are 2-times more likely than older whites to come down with Alzheimer’s. The reason for this is not entirely clear. But a big factor likely is the cardiovascular risk that is higher in Latinos and African Americans. This translates into a higher risk for Alzheimer’s.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

There are more publications that point out that Alzheimer’s disease is largely preventable by cutting out those factors that contribute to its development.

Here is a list of steps to follow in order to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. First of all treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity aggressively. This eliminates cardiovascular risk factors, which keeps the brain vessels open.
  2. Furthermore quit smoking. By preserving the cardiovascular system the brain stabilizes.
  3. Another important factor is physical activity: exercise daily! This maintains cardiopulmonary fitness. It also keeps your brain vessels open.
  4. Also, take care of your diet: eat balanced meals and avoid junk food. A Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet are examples of diets that help prevent Alzheimer’s. Note that these are low sugar and low saturated fat diets. This fits the initial observation that you read in the beginning of this blog. Mice on a high fat/high sugar diet showed premature aging and developed Alzheimer’s. Knowing this, it is good to do the opposite: cut out excessive saturated fats and sugar. Sugar increase LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which leads to hardening of arteries.
  5. Mental stimulation is another important factor for preventing Alzheimer’s. With lifelong bilingualism there was a delay of about 4.5 years in onset of dementia. The ACTIVE study is in the link above. It showed that mental stimulation could indeed delay the onset of Alzheimer’s over a 10-year period. 
Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

Above all, I cannot emphasize enough how important a healthy diet is for a healthy mind. The combination of an overabundance of saturated fats and refined sugar was found to be the cause of premature aging in mice. But likewise, we know from human trials that this also causes premature aging in humans and higher incidence of Alzheimer’s. As a result, it is logical to recommend a lower intake of saturated fat and to reduce sugar intake. It will prevent hardening of the arteries and slow down the development of Alzheimer’s.

But there are many other recommendations to avoid getting Alzheimer’s: quit smoking. Stay physically active by exercising daily. Use a Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet to prevent Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials with these diets have shown them to be effective. Treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity aggressively as this will stabilize your metabolism. As a result it also prevents Alzheimer’s. Finally, stimulate your brain every day by doing various activities. This forms new synaptic connections inside your brain and postpones Alzheimer’s from setting in as you age.