Jun
13
2015

Preserving Our Energy

We are all aging, and as we do we are gradually losing energy until we reach our last breath. Here I like to review where our energy comes from and what we can do to preserve our energy. When we preserve our energy we are in fact also slowing down the aging process and this in essence is the approach to anti-aging.

Mitochondria are power packs of energy

Each of our body cells has many mitochondria to give us energy. Some organs are more demanding. They are the main players in our body like the brain, the heart, the liver or the kidneys. Their cells have thousands of these energy packages. Without the mitochondria there would be no energy available to these key organs to perform all the work they do. They allow us to think and produce brain hormones, to contract our heart muscle and pump the blood through our arteries. They are organs like the liver that are in charge of all of the major metabolic reactions or the kidneys that filter our blood for impurities and eliminate them in urine. Mitochondria can be likened to our power bundles that give our organs and us energy to get through life.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is an energy rebuilder. But it has to be deep enough and long enough, and there has to be enough REM sleep to give us the feeling that we had a refreshing sleep. As we age some of our hormone production slows down. One of those substances is melatonin. It is crucial for good and restful sleep. If our body is not producing enough, we can supplement with small dosages like 3 mg orally to help our body to initiate sleep. It is not an addictive substance. It is the body’s own hormone. Should you wake up later in the night, you could take another 3 mg of melatonin. There is no risk either to feel tired or “hung over” after taking melatonin.

Exercise regularly

The cheapest energy you can get is by exercising regularly. When you exercise on a treadmill, go jogging or go for a brisk walk you condition your heart, improve your lungs; in short you develop cardiovascular fitness. At the same time your muscles are strengthened with isometric exercises. You are optimizing your energy flow. In the process of exercising you create a stimulus for your mitochondria to multiply in the affected tissues. This applies as much to your muscles as it does to your heart and to your lungs. You will find that your muscle strength increases. With exercise you spend energy, but you feel more energetic from it because your body is being tuned up.

Manage stress

Self-hypnosis is a simple way to allow your whole body to relax. However, the various forms of yoga will do the same thing for you. Meditation is another way of finding peace and tranquility. All of these methods will re-energize you. They calm your brain, help you to cope with stress and rebalance your hormones at the same time.

Lifestyle

You need a lifestyle that is conducive to keeping your energies. Listed here are several factors that interfere with energy production.

  1. Smoking: If you smoke, you burn up energy with every cigarette you consume. You interfere with the oxygen transport through your lungs, but the chemicals that poison your system also poison the mitochondria of the cells. By smoking you are destroying your power packs. Pollution damages your lungs in a similar fashion as smoking does, but it is a slower process. There are a number of big cities with severe air pollution and they may not be worthwhile visiting.
  2. Sugar and starchy foods: Back in the 1970’s based on the Framingham Heart Study it was thought that hardening of arteries would be due to an accumulation of cholesterol from fat in the diet. Saturated fatty acids were accused to be the culprit. A low fat diet was supposed to be the solution. But the end result was the obesity and diabetes wave that we still see now. There had to be another explanation of where hardening of the arteries came from. Banning fats did not lead to better statistics. The new observation was that a low carb/medium fat diet was associated with low heart attack rates, low stroke rates, and even low cancer rates. Researchers also found the real culprit: They are sugar, starchy foods and processed foods. Sugar and starchy foods are metabolized in the liver into LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and they also oxidize LDL cholesterol. This starts a vicious process of inflammation of the lining of the arteries with fat deposits into the wall of the arteries. By eating the wrong foods we interfere with our body chemistry to the point where free radicals are produced that attack everything in us including our mitochondria. I have blogged about this many times before. You can read about it here.
  3. Alcohol: the famous one glass of red wine for women and two glasses of red wine for men is supposedly keeping us younger for longer. This is true for the resveratrol in the red wine, which is a powerful antioxidant. But to say that alcohol itself would prolong your life is a white lie. Alcohol is a nerve and cell poison; it robs you of energy. I take the resveratrol as a supplement from the health food store to protect my system. I stay away from alcohol.

Keep the arteries open

We need healthy arteries to pump blood through all of the branches and deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body cells. Unfortunately, as we age our arteries tend to get deposits that make them more narrow, and this could also raise our blood pressure. The end result is that less nutrients and oxygen will reach our body cells. We perceive that something is wrong by not feeling as energetic as usual. Simple lifestyle changes as mentioned below can improve our circulation and lower our blood pressure. Chelation therapy has also been shown as helpful in the TACT study.

Get rid of inflammation

Dr. Paul Ridker found that approximately 50% of patients with heart attacks had a normal cholesterol level. He was looking for a more meaningful screening test and found it in the C-reactive protein. If the test result was higher than 3 there was a high probability that there was inflammation somewhere in the body, but a test result of less than 1 was normal. In the meantime scientists have learnt that the C-reactive protein is a very sensitive tool to measure inflammation in the body, but it is not specific for heart attacks. It is also positive in people with arthritis, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Chronic inflammation is also destroying immune cells: this explains the development of cancer as the end stage of chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation robs you of energy. We can do a lot with natural anti-inflammatory supplements to quench inflammation.

Preserve your immune system

We can strengthen our immune system by exercise, taking vitamin C regularly and by taking vitamin D3 supplements to just name a few. DHEA, the precursor hormone from the adrenal gland also helps stimulate the immune system.

Balance your hormones

As we age we loose hormones one by one. With melatonin this starts happening after the age of 20, with DHEA and growth hormone after you are in your mid thirties. Women start to get into menopause at the age of 45 to 55, but this can occur earlier or later. Men are going through their hormone change (andropause) at the age of 55 to 60. Both, women and men know when they are entering their hormone change because of a lack of energy and a few other unpleasant symptoms. Women get hot flashes. Men get grumpy, have erectile dysfunction, a lack of sex drive, week muscles and slower thinking. If you feel those symptoms, seek the help of a naturopath who is knowledgeable on bioidentical hormone replacement. Chances are that your regular doctor will want to prescribe synthetic hormones unless you can find an anti-aging physician. If your blood tests show deficiencies in the sex hormones, you will need to get a bioidentical hormone prescription. They are usually dispensed as creams, which you apply to your chest wall or non-hairy forearms in the morning. After 4 weeks your energy will be back, and your body will function normally again. All the body functions that you thought were gone forever just needed that extra stimulus from the missing bioidentical hormones.

Organic, GMO free food

I was tempted to just write “good food”. But this may be confusing to people. It is difficult anywhere in the world to get good food. Often insecticides and pesticides contaminate fruit and vegetables, which function as xenoestrogens blocking hormonal receptors. These residues are toxic for your body, and they are destructive to your energy. Organic food with the USDA certification or any independent certification is the best way to ensure that you get a good food product. I take this seriously and pay the extra dollar. We do not need plates heaped with foods. Small helpings of good quality foods are more important for our well-being.

Treat depression and mental disease

People who are depressed will complain of a lack of energy. Their brain circuits are constantly in overdrive being busy with negative thinking. Cognitive therapy can help depressed patients to face their negative emotions. It is a learning process of thinking step by step to distinguish what is real and what is magic thinking. It is important to seek qualified help. Depressed patients distort the way they think, but cognitive therapy sets their thinking straight (Ref.1). When the thinking is normalizing, the drained energy returns, people sleep better again and they can use the energy to move forward.

Positive thinking

Negative thoughts are draining you of energy. You want to stay optimistic within what’s reasonable. Be thankful for all the good things in your life. Minimize what’s negative, but think about positive solutions to get rid of energy draining parts in your days. Do this persistently until it becomes part of your life and you will have extra energy that you didn’t waste in negative thinking or by getting caught up in needless anxiety. Worrying does not get us anywhere, but it depletes our energy.

Preserving Our Energy

Preserving Our Energy

What can we do to prevent aging?

It follows from all that I said that anything that preserves energy would also prevent premature aging.

As mentioned, it is important to exercise regularly (gym, swimming, dancing, fast walking, jogging etc.). Have good, balanced nutrition, preferably organic food. Some supplements are also helpful: resveratrol, Co-Q-10; pages 100 to 103 of my book contain more vitamins and supplements (Ref.2). Here is a link to my website NetHealthBook, which also addresses vitamins and supplements (scroll down to table). Avoid sugar and starchy foods to avoid oxidizing LDL cholesterol. Use bioidentical hormones to replace what is missing. Get your 7 to 8 hours of sleep and don’t forget relaxation. Detoxify to get rid of toxins that would slow you down. Infrared saunas are one way to detoxify. It is helpful to consider chelation treatments. Last but not least have a positive outlook on life.

Conclusion

Our energy that we feel tells us whether we are staying healthy or whether we are at the verge of getting sick. It is best to maintain your energy at all times by doing a combination of things outlined above. You will retain youthful energy; you prevent cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and even cancer. Most of all you have the energy to do the things you want and love to do.

I prefer to work on staying well and in the process I have the energy to do the things I want to do. Part of it is blogging, part of it is writing books, and part of it is dancing. The key is that I like what I am doing. I invite you to do what will keep you energized. Listen to your body.

 

References:

1. David D. Burns, MD: “feeling good – the new mood therapy” 1999, Harper Collins.

2. Dr. Schilling’s book, March 2014, Amazon.com:“A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging: With recipes for 1 week provided by Christina Schilling

Jan
04
2015

Lifestyle Has Profound Changes On Our System

Dr. David Katz delivered a keynote address where he said that lifestyle has profound changes on our system. This took place at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014. His talk was entitled “Integrative Medicine: A Bridge Over Healthcare’s Troubled Waters”.

He started the 1 hour talk with showing a slide of six blind men and the elephant. The conclusion was that each of the blind men saw only one aspect of the elephant, but no one saw the true elephant. With healthcare it is a bit like that.

Causes of death

Dr. McGinnis et al. in 1993 published the “Actual causes of death in the United States”.

Ten factors were responsible for chronic disease, but the first three things on McGinnis list were the most important ones: tobacco use, diet and lack of exercise.

Mokdad in 2004 noted that the revised list of “Actual causes of death in the United States”: tobacco was no longer number one.

Effect of healthy lifestyle

Ford et al. in 2009 stated: “Healthy living is the best revenge…Nutrition-Potsdam study

Although there is no magic pill for reducing disease, lifestyle is exactly “the magic pill” that reduces mortality by almost 80%.

Fastforward to 2014: Akkeson et al. came to the same conclusion when examining what would be able to prevent heart attacks. They stated that LIFESTYLE is what matters.

We live in the “epigenetic age: dinner is destiny!” With this Dr. Katz meant to say that our genes get switched on and off depending on what we put into our mouths. This determines whether we live shorter or longer lives.

He went on to say: “Feet (exercise), forks (diet), fingers (cigarettes) are what matters.” Oncogenes can get turned off in prostate cancer with the help of exercise, the right food intake and quitting to smoke.

Food addiction and obesity

Dr. Katz mentioned the book by Michael Moss “Salt, sugar, fat”, which made it to the cover story of Time Magazine in 2013. In it is described how the food industry employs PhD’s to include agents in processed foods to ensure that consumers get addicted to the food products. Food addiction leads to obesity; the CDC statistics show that it is effective! We have put up with this for far too long. There are differences of obesity rates between countries, here Canadian and US statistics shown.

Dr. Katz asked the audience to raise up their hands, if they had a person close to them die of cancer, a heart attack or a stroke. Almost all of the more than 500 participants in the Hall raised their hands.

Lifestyle Has Profound Changes On Our System

Lifestyle Has Profound Changes On Our System

Children education programs

So what is the ONE thing that can fix everything? He answered this rhetoric question by saying that there is no one thing that fixes everything. But we can start at a young age by educating our children. Dr. Katz has started a program for school kids called “ABC for fitness for kids” to prevent obesity. The program teaches children healthful food choices. You can find many of these on YouTube (Dr. Katz:“kids speak YouTube”). Dr. Katz commented that a website, NuVal uses a nutritional value rating system to monitor food quality and manufacturers have improved the content of their products because the composition of their products were displayed on that website. We need to be vigilant and read labels.

Change one thing at a time

But we can only change one thing at a time, like we walk one step at a time on a spiral staircase to get to the next floor. We ask ourselves about our lifestyle: what is the first thing to fix? We fix this point (like exercise more), then we fix the second (adopt a Mediterranean diet), the third (take specific vitamins and supplements) and so on; in other words we approach one thing at a time. Integrative medicine, the fusion of conventional and non-conventional medicine, can help to solve problems one step at a time.

Effect of CoQ10

Despite a bias in the North American medical literature saying that CoQ10 was “useless”, the European Heart Journal reported in 2013 that CoQ10 decreases all-cause-mortality in patients with heart disease. Here is a link to a more recent article (Dec. 2014) regarding a two year trial with congestive heart failure patients taking only 100 mg of CoQ-10 three times daily that found that all-cause-mortality was reduced significantly.

Blue zones

There is a new wave going around the United States: It is the idea to copy the lifestyle of the blue zones around the world. Blue zones are areas in the world where the life expectancy is 100 years or more. This link leads you to a information about blue zones that is worth watching.

It explains how Blue Zones are being established all around America. Dr. Katz explained that lifestyle is the medicine and the environment is the spoon. In Blue Zones the environment is such that people who live long, healthy lives influence you positively. They spoon it to you non-verbally by their example. Organic vegetables in stores are cheaper in Blue Zones, so it is easier to eat more of them; people socialize more with each other, they exercise more and dance. This is what people do who live longer than 100 years. In other words, you change the culture, you change your lifestyle, you exercise more, you stop smoking, you eat healthy and you live longer.

You must decide on which pathway to go

Dr. Katz ended his lecture with the image of you walking along and coming to a fork. To go further you must decide to go on the pathway to your right or on the pathway to the left. You turn on the right pathway by deciding to adopt the principles of the Blue Zones; you make the decision to want to turn older than 100 years and keep your vitality until it is time for you to pass on. In the meantime you enjoy every day, you are not disabled and your mind and body stay healthy. The other pathway was the one that the majority of the industrialized Western nations has taken in the last few decades. Which path will it be that you decide to take?

Conclusion

At the conference Dr Katz and a number of other speakers pointed out how powerful lifestyle is for our body functions. Other speakers stressed the importance of telomeres, the caps of the chromosomes, which comprise the end of the double stranded DNA. With every cell division our telomeres shorten. Stem cells also have telomeres, but they are on average longer than the somatic dells. It probably is like this to be able for stem cells to replace the aging somatic cells.

There is a new logic of a healthy lifestyle is. It says that a healthy lifestyle causes healthy telomeres of somatic cells and of stem cells. This causes health until a ripe old age. I will be blogging about some of the other key talks of the conference in the near future to clarify this point further.

Aug
02
2014

Keep Your Muscles In Older Age

Intuitively you may have noted that older folks who have very little “meat” on them are not as healthy as people of the same age with well-developed muscles.

A research team under the supervision of Dr. Preethi Srikanthan and Dr. Arun S. Karlamangla from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA decided to measure the muscle mass index instead of the body mass index. They did this using bioelectrical impedance (simple electronic body composition bathroom scales) and they wanted to see whether there would be any correlation with regard to mortality statistics in an older population.

The study group consisted of 3659 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (average age for males 55 and older, females 65 and older). The survey took place between 1988-1994. Mortality rates were computed by the end of 2004. The median length of follow-up per person was 13.2 years.

The authors of the study compared mortality curves for four subgroups of muscle mass from low to high: 0-25%, 25-50%, 50 to 75% and 75 to 100%. When the lowest muscle mass group was compared to the highest muscle mass group, there was a 20% increased mortality rate for the lowest muscle mass group.

This study had careful controls built in and could demonstrate that the difference was not due to better or worse LDL cholesterol values or triglycerides; it was not due to differences in diabetic rates or other factors. This is the first study that shows in a US based population that a lower than average muscle mass is an independent risk factor for premature death in an older population.

The authors were aware of Danish study that had previously shown that a lower muscle mass was associated with a higher mortality rate in 50 to 64 year-olds.

I like to comment regarding this study by putting it into the context of other medical findings.

Keep Your Muscles In Older Age

Keep Your Muscles In Older Age

1. Older people tend to have more falls

Several studies have shown over the years that older people fall more often because of a combination of balance problems with slower reaction time, and also because of poorer muscle development when compared to a younger age group. The medical costs are staggering when older people reach the age of 85 where about 20% of that subpopulation experience serious falls resulting in hip fractures and hospitalizations. There is a mortality of about 25% associated with hip fractures in that age group. And about 50% of those who survive will not be living independently at 1 year following a hip fracture. Fortunately fractures from falls can largely be prevented by making physical changes to the home to prevent tripping and having extra guard rails where needed. But another important factor is to exercise regularly within the capabilities of the older person to maintain muscle mass, which will balance the body and control upper and lower extremity strength as the person moves around.

2. Fit people live longer

A Stanford University study followed 6000 middle-aged men for 10 years and found that the fittest who exercised regularly were 12% more likely to stay alive for every metabolic equivalent; this is the energy that a sitting person uses in terms of oxygen consumption. They also found that the least fit had a 4.5-fold higher death rate within 6 years from the beginning of the study compared to the fittest.

To put this into perspective: a regular walk at less than two miles an hour would be equivalent to 2 metabolic equivalents, a brisk walk at 4 miles per hour is worth 5 metabolic equivalents and running 6 miles an hour is worth 8 metabolic equivalents. This is how the math works: a regular walk every day translates into 2×12% = 24% more likelihood of staying alive in the next 6 years compared to a sedentary person. A person exercising with a brisk walk with a speed of 4 miles per hour every day would be 5×12% = 60% more likely to be alive in 6 years compared to a sedentary person who does not exercise. Not smoking and having a normal weight would add to your probability of living longer. Pushing yourself to the extreme (running 6 miles per hour) may be problematic for the majority of us as there are issues of getting into adrenal gland insufficiency that can develop, if you over-stress yourself. (This is my comment, not part of the study).

Now you may have wondered about the woman’s side (as the previous study was an all-male study). The answer comes from a recent paper that studied 10 clinical trials throughout the world (US, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Taiwan and Japan) involving only postmenopausal women. Yes, there is the same surprising finding that regular brisk exercise makes the women live longer with less disabilities and less mortality!

The bottom line: exercise regularly and live.

3. Exercise develops your muscles and maintains them

We were born to use our muscles daily (designed as hunter/gatherers), but in the meantime this is what we do: sitting in front of the computer or TV, in cars, in class (school, university, work) or in the movie theatre. So we need to discipline ourselves to get into a routine that balances all of the other activities. Muscle strength exercises or activities as indicated in this link are the answer.

The earlier we adopt this type of a routine, the better off we are when we reach the golden years of retirement. I am one of the examples of former non-exercisers. Apart from liking to go for long walks 3 to 4 times per week I did no formal exercises until 8 years ago when my wife and I got into ballroom and Latin dancing inspired by “Dancing with the stars”. But it is only about 2 years now that we took up regular gym workouts for 45 to 60 minutes every day. It is now easier for me to walk up on a steep hill in our neighborhood that has an 18% incline than 2 years ago.  Muscles need regular exercise. You put a limb in a cast and within 3 weeks most of the muscle strength has melted away. You remove the cast and it will take 3 to 6 weeks of regular exercise to regain the muscle strength. So why not maintain your muscle strength in the first place?

4. Exercise develops cardiovascular fitness

The aerobic part of my daily exercise program (treadmill) develops cardiovascular fitness as the lungs have to work harder and the heart is being activated. Doing this regularly is mimicking going through the landscape looking for food and hunting.  Of course most of us drive in our cars to the grocery store and get our food that way. So my balance is to go to the gym and at least once a day get that work-out. What can we expect from fitness training? An NIH study showed that with a moderate work-out of only 2.5 hours per week you will gain 4.5 years of life due to cardiovascular fitness. This is better than money in the account. It is free healthy additional life!

5. Sensible nutrition will help preserve muscle mass

No, I am not taking your food away. I am suggesting that we watch the quality of the food we are consuming. If you are like the average consumer, you may be eating too many carbs in form of pasta, bread, rice and potatoes. Some of you have read in past blogs that my wife and I cut out sugar and starchy foods as well as wheat since 2001. We both lost 50 pounds and kept it down. I know that if I would restart sugar and starchy foods, my fat content would go up, my muscle content down and the BMI up. How do I know? I weigh myself every day on body composition scales (which works by the principal of bioelectrical impedance analysis), which show all of these indicators. Recently I got into some organic Bing cherries. They were delicious, but it also is a fruit with significant sugar content! Within a day I knew that I’d better watch the quantities I consume (fat composition was up, muscles mass down). It took 3 days for my values to be back to normal.

When it comes to muscle mass, overconsumption of refined carbs is one problem; however, our bodies do need quality lean meat and some fish (salmon, mackerel; low mercury fish) as a source of protein. I buy organic meats to get away from the problem of pesticide pollution as much as possible. Some people like vegan food, they may need to supplement with protein supplements.

Conclusion:

It may sound like common sense that a body with well-developed muscles will live longer. You may want to compare this to a well-maintained car (less rust, good maintenance) and the car will still drive well once it has a high mileage.

We have bodies that need maintenance (exercise) and good nutrition (no junk food, sensible diet). If we make this our regular lifestyle, we will develop and maintain muscles. It will keep us in the group with a lower mortality rate compared to sessile persons and junk food consumers.

Nothing happens without any effort. We need to earn muscle fitness for ourselves! Think about it, improve where you need to improve and then maintain it. More than anything else this will pay dividends well into your future.

More information on:

1. Exercise (fitness): http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

2. Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries and how to avoid it): http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/atherosclerosis-the-missing-link-between-strokes-and-heart-attacks/

 

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

 

Jul
23
2014

Sunburn Prevention

Much has been written about sunburn prevention. The thinking behind this is that perhaps we could prevent skin cancer and melanoma development, if we would block ultraviolet rays from the sun or from tanning booths irritate our skin.

So far the theory. Now the truth.

1. Increase of skin cancer despite sunscreen applications

It is sobering that statistics of skin cancer frequency  show that despite more awareness of the importance of skin protection with sunscreen lotions and creams, skin cancer rates have steadily increased. Behind this paradox is the fact that vitamin D3 production in the skin is blocked from sun exposure and the person is not getting the cancer protecting effect of vitamin D3.

Low vitamin D3 levels (measured as 25-hydroxy vitamin D3) are not only associated with skin cancer, but also with breast cancer, and breast cancer will be reduced to 50% of control groups, if patients are treated with high vitamin D3 supplements. There are many other cancers that respond to exposure to sunlight or to supplementation with vitamin D3.

2. We need to know about infrared rays and the ultraviolet exposure

The ultraviolet radiation of sunlight has been extensively studied. There are UVA rays that range from 315 to 400 nanometers. They make up about 95% of the sunlight and penetrate deeper into the skin (the dermis level) leading to more severe skin damage, producing aged looking skin.  UVB rays (5% of sunlight) contain wavelength measuring between 280 and 325 nanometers affecting the most superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis. These rays cause sunburns. Both UVA and UVB are strongest around midday. The sun also produces UVC rays (wave length 180 to 280 nanometers), which are completely absorbed by the ozone layer and are not of importance unless you live under an ozone hole.

Next there is IR (infrared radiation), which has only recently been detected to be of health concern. IR rays range from 760 nanometers to 1 million nanometers (=1 millimeter). It causes skin photoaging and damage. Most of IR is in the lower range (between 760 and 1,440 nanometers); the total amount of IR rays that reach the skin is massive compared to the UV light and 50% of these rays reach deep into the skin to the level of the dermis.

Sunburn Prevention

Sunburn Prevention

3. Filtering out the damaging rays

Armed with the above knowledge we can now talk about sunscreen lotions and sunscreen creams. Traditional sunscreen lotions and creams have been directed against both shortwave (UVB) and longwave (UVA) rays of the sun. UVB blockers prevent damage to the surface of the skin (epidermis level), UVA blockers prevent damage to the deeper dermis. It is in your interest to buy a sun blocking agent that blocks both of these rays. (You have to read labels.)

However, both of these blockers, which means all of the traditional sunscreen agents, will not block IR waves (infrared radiation), which causes most of the wrinkles, age-related skin changes and skin DNA damage, which eventually results in skin cancer.

4. Vitamin D3 deficiency because of sunscreen applications

As we know that sunscreen agents lead to blocking of vitamin D synthesis in the skin, it is prudent to take vitamin D3 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day and have your health care provider order 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 blood levels from time to time (aim for a level of 100 ng/m or more). There is no danger of overdosing vitamin D3. That story about overdosing of vitamins is coming from vitamin A overdosing. There is a ceiling not to be exceeded due to liver toxicity over vitamin A overdosing, but not so for vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 protects not only from skin cancer, but also from other cancers. For more on vitamin D3 read my recent blog on this.

5. Whole body protection from the inside

There are two approaches to using systemic natural extracts. One component is from a tropical fern (Polypodium leucotomos) and another one from blood oranges that can both repair sun damaged skin and prevent sunburn. The effective substances are administered orally.

This fern extract has been tested in smaller clinical trials and was found to have a 70% to 75% efficacy in blocking all sun rays from the inside out.

In a small trial patients were exposed to UVB light after preparation with red orange extract and a 35% reduction of sun burn was found within 15 days when compared to controls.

There is a possibility now to take one capsule with tropical fern extract mixed with red orange extract and combine this with traditional sunscreen agents and have optimal sun protection.

One trial that is mentioned in these last two links is a group of polymorphous light eruption patients who are born with extreme sun sensitivity, but reported an 80% improvement with this oral fern extract treatment.

6. Final recommendations for sunburn prevention

Although the advice given in this WebMD link is useful, it neglects to recommend to supplement with vitamin D3 because of the sunscreen action. It also does not mention the IR waves of the sun that do most of the damage and that only get prevented by staying out of the sun or by taking the oral sunscreen pill (tropical fern extract and red orange extract mixed).

My recommendation, if you were not allergic to ferns, is to consider taking the oral pill (as far as I know currently only available from LifeExtension as “enhanced fern block with red orange complex”) to block the entire wavelength of the sun rays. This will repair some of the skin damage that has already been done. Follow the above WebMD link as well with regard to the sun screen lotions/creams. Also stay out of the noon sun between 11 AM and 2 PM. Take your vitamin D3 in the high dose range as discussed above to preserve optimal resistance against all kinds of cancers including skin cancer.

Conclusion:

In reviewing the facts prior to writing this blog I was quite bewildered how misleading a lot of the literature is regarding prevention of sunburns, particularly by assuming that all you had to do was to block UVB and UVA rays. I attempted to explain why this is an oversimplification, and the skin cancer statistics clearly show that sunscreen blockers alone are not stopping skin cancer. So, we do need a combination of
1. Staying out of the noon sun.

2. Using clothing and wide sun hats to keep the sun out of our faces.

3. Use the traditional sunscreen agents. Reapply, if necessary.

4. Using an oral sunscreen agent that blocks infrared rays as discussed under point 5 and 6.

5. Using vitamin D3 in high doses as discussed under point 4 above for cancer prevention.

With this in mind, enjoy the rest of your summer!

More information on:

1. Sunburns: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/sunburns/

2. Different skin types and skin cancer causes: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/skin-cancer/causes-skin-cancer/

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

Jul
02
2014

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Not too long ago I came across a blog that summarized the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”. Although this is a useful list, it occurred to me that these problems could be compressed into about 9 underlying themes. Below I am describing the same type of problems regarding modern medicine in a somewhat abbreviated fashion.

Points 1 to 4 below cover points 1 to 9 of the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”:

1. The patient is seen as a complicated machine with parts that could break down. When there is a breakdown of the machinery, symptoms develop, which are quickly fixed with a patented medicine, but without really addressing the underlying problem. 

This type of approach soothes pain, but changes nothing for a chronic illness like MS. Nobody has all the answers to this complicated illness, but we know that it is an autoimmune disease. So it makes sense to avoid foods that could make the patient worse. This is exactly what Dr. Terry Wahls is describing in her YouTube video.

Also, vitamins and supplements for multiple sclerosis that support the immune system would be useful. Vitamin D3 in high doses, but monitoring blood levels by doing 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood tests from time to time would also be useful.

2. A holistic approach to building up health rather than fixing a clinical problem, which belongs to a disease, is not part of modern medicine.

In the past a stomach acid problem was treated with H-2 receptor antagonists like cimetidine or ranitidine. The newer proton pump inhibitors, like omeprazole were added and were supposed to be better in suppressing the acid formation. But they did nothing to cure the ulcer or gastritis problem. The problem often was that chronic stress allowed a bacterium, H.pylori to multiply in the stomach wall causing stomach acid and a burning sensation. This did respond to the antacid medications for a period of time, but came back when the medication was stopped. A simple over the counter licorice compound, called DGL or a simple mastic gum from the health food store can cure the helicobacter infection and cure your peptic ulcer disease without the need for the expensive patented H-2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors.

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

3. Everybody with the same disease is treated with the same medical treatment schedule, often agreed on by consensus expert panels. The body’s self-healing capacity or the placebo effect, which is an expression of the same natural healing response, is ignored.

Here is a study that was done on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on placebo pills. Placebo pills were 24% more effective than the control group who took no pills in controlling symptoms of IBS. Why not utilize this in conventional medicine?

4. The disease is treated, not the patient; numbers from lab tests count, not clinical signs of the physical examination. What used to be called the “art of medicine” has been abandoned.

The art of medicine is important to establish a rapport with the patient, but also to pick up silent features during the examination that may otherwise be overlooked.

Points 10 to 18 of the“18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine” are covered by points 5 to 9 below:

5. Diet, lifestyle, hormone changes (due to chronic stress and older age) are all ignored. If there are the hormone changes of menopause or andropause, only synthetic hormones are given and only for a limited time not exceeding 5 years. Bioidentical hormone replacement invokes butterfly feelings in the physician’s stomach and must therefore be rejected. It’s almost a knee-jerk response. The reason for that is the fear that bioidentical hormones would have the same devastating side effects as the synthetic hormones. However, this is a fallacy, as a young person with fully functioning natural hormones will not come down with nefarious side effects of strokes, heart attacks or cancer.

This link to Dr. Lee’s website explains why bioidentical hormones fit the hormone receptors better than the synthetic concoctions.

6. The thought that the body may have been exposed to toxins (like heavy metals, xenoestrogens etc.) from the environment that are taken up and stored in the body like a sponge and should be detoxified from time to time is foreign thinking to modern medicine except for a small group of dedicated physicians and naturopaths who offer various forms of chelation therapy.

The TART trial has shown that there was a 18% reduction of heart attack rate in the group that received 40 chelation therapy treatments. Chelation therapy can easily be combined with traditional treatment methods, but mostly his option is ignored.

7. Similarly the idea that supplements and vitamins would be essential to support the body in the fight against free radicals that form inside the body every day is not something every doctor will feel comfortable in recommending.

In Ref. 1 (chapter 8) I have cited evidence from a clinical trial that multivitamins elongate telomeres by 5.1% and add 9.8 years of productive life in those who take multivitamins over a long period of time versus those who do not.

8. In the health care industry we are still working in a hierarchical system where the doctor is on top and the patient is on a lower level and dependent. In the future medical system the doctor and the patient are equal partners who try to solve a health problem as a team.

The doctor may have more experience in diagnosing, prescribing and monitoring health problems, but the patient is the one who owns the problem and is encouraged to comply with the prescribed treatment and to report back to the doctor, if there are new symptoms that may lead the doctor to new insights resulting in improving the treatment plan.

9. Big Pharma influences doctors to prescribe their patented medicinesNew drugs and old drugs are sold like the latest invention against the dreaded disease XYZ (you can fill in whatever the diagnosis is). But none of these drugs is effective against a hormone disbalance, stress, a lack of sleep, lack of exercise or malnutrition. The patient’s co-operation is needed to work on these issues.

I have explained in Ref.1 that the metabolic syndrome, which is responsible for much of our modern diseases (diabetes, heart attacks, arthritis, strokes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease) can be overcome by a combination of steps: paying attention to our food intake, cutting out sugar and high glycemic starchy foods and excessive fats. Regular exercise will help you to build up and maintain muscle mass and at the same time to melt in excessive fat. Yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation and prayer can remedy stress. Bioidentical hormones can replace any hormone deficiencies. Detoxification, vitamins and supplements complete this program, which allows you to successfully age without disabilities. All these steps taken together allow your body to recover and find a new balance where drugs are rarely needed.

Conclusion:

The reason Medicare is so expensive is that life style issues are not often addressed. By only treating symptoms the underlying causes of an illness are not removed. This means that the illness will not be cured. Take for instance heart attacks. If you want to go down the road from angina to heart attack to bypass surgery or stents, you will soon run out of options. The next level of curative medicine approach is a heart transplant after heart attack number 4 or 5. Comprehensive medicine would approach this differently by paying attention to what you eat and motivate you to cut out starchy foods, wheat, and sugar. This would address obesity, which is a problem in many Western countries. You would engage in regular physical exercise. Stress would be overcome in yoga classes or self-hypnosis sessions. Bioidentical hormones would replace your missing hormones based on saliva hormone tests or blood test samples. The heart muscle that has a lot of testosterone receptors would respond to this. As mentioned above a series of chelation treatments to remove heavy metals could also be offered in this combined, comprehensive heart attack prevention program with a reduction of 18% of heart attacks. This all is available now, but regrettably few people make use of it.

References:

1. Dr. Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“, Amazon.com, 2014

Last edited July 3, 2014

Jun
21
2014

Older Grumpy People Have Higher Risk Of Dementia

Although in this recent study from Finland researchers found that grumpiness in older age seems to lead to dementia at a faster rate, I like to emphasize here that there may be an under lying problem of hormone deficiency.

Other studies have shown that in males low testosterone levels are associated with grumpiness and dementia is setting in sooner in those males who are deficient for testosterone. For older grumpy females it is the lack of progesterone that has been found to be deficient and when you replace it, memory comes back, symptoms of menopause reverse themselves and the grumpiness is gone. Testosterone replacement may be required by as many as 1 in 4 men in the their 40’s as is summarized in the article from Great Britain.

How can we tell whether there is a change in an older man? There are quite a few symptoms that can be seen by loved ones around this man: an increase in abdominal girth, shrinking muscles, lack of energy, irritability. The key is to get him to the doctor and ask the doctor to order a bioavailable testosterone blood test.

According to medical research 84% of men and 62% of women in the age group of 57 to 64 have been sexually active in the previous 12 months. Take an older age group of 65 to 74 and still 67% of men and 40% of women are sexually active. Fast-forward to age 75 to 85 and the rate has dropped to 39% of men and 17% of women (Ref.1). A person’s sexual activity is a barometer how well the hormones are balanced. These figures show that bioidentical hormone replacement has not been well accepted. Women have a reason as they were misled by Big Pharma as was shown in the

Older Grumpy People Have Higher Risk Of Dementia

Older Grumpy People Have Higher Risk Of Dementia

Women’s Health Initiative:

The National Institutes of Health had funded a large study (the Women’s Health Initiative) to clarify what was going on with regard to side effects and effects of HRT.

Unfortunately, synthetic non-bioidentical hormone products were used in these studies (Premarin and Provera) instead of bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. The results of the Women’s Health Initiative were devastating. In 2002 doctors were warned that Premarin and Provera used as HRT would cause increased heart attack rates and breasts cancer, which led to premature death. Overall the placebo group did better than the experimental group and this is why the trial was prematurely stopped.  As a result of the wide publicity regarding the negative results of the Women’s Health Initiative postmenopausal women either do not see their physician for hormone replacement or are advised by conventional doctors that only small amounts of Premarin could be used for not more than 5 years for fear of causing breast cancer. Medico-legal considerations are at play and the whole issue of HRT after menopause has been politicized.

Problems now for HRT:

It is like a negative shadow has been cast forward with regard to hormone replacement because of the Women’s Health Initiative. People are still confused and don’t understand that the synthetic hormone-like drugs from Big Pharma are like an ill-fitting key for the hormone receptors in the body whereas bioidentical hormones are the perfect fit.

Otherwise there would not be a 45% drop-off (from 62% to 17%) in sexual activities in women from age 60 to 80. Men have it somewhat easier: their drop rate between age 60 an 80 is also 45% (from 84% to 39%), but as they entered into male menopause 10 to 15 years later than women did with menopause, their sexual activity is still double that of women at the age of 80.

However, if people could overcome their unrealistic fear of bioidentical hormones, hormones that fit the body’s hormone receptors a lot more people would be encouraged to use bioidentical hormone replacements.

What, if the grumpy, old man is willing to see his doctor?

The doctor should look at all of the hormones including a fasting insulin level as hyperinsulinism often complicates hormone replacement. Thyroid, which often is also lowered at an older age should be also tested (T3, T4 and TSH). A saliva hormone test can show a panel of 5 hormones: cortisol, DHEAS, testosterone, progesterone and estradiol. As hormones are in a balance with each other this allows to compute the testosterone to estrogen ratio, which ought to be 20 or higher. But hormones alone are not the answer. There needs to be a combination of proper nutrition (cut out sugar, starchy foods, preferably switch to organic foods to escape the xenoestrogens that foul up your hormone balance), also exercise and use vitamins and supplements. I have summarized all of this in my recent book “A survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging” (Ref.2).

When the hormone tests come back the doctor will likely order the missing hormones (hopefully as bioidentical hormones).

It can take 2 to 3 months before the full effect of bioidentical hormone replacement is seen. But most men will be astounded how well they can feel. He will notice that he does not tire with exercising. His muscle mass builds up; his posture improves. His stamina comes back. He will find that the previously foggy thinking is gone and his thought processes have become clear again. And yes, his sex live comes back. So now he has to talk to his sex partner about her bioidentical hormone replacement so they both can enjoy the benefits!

Hidden benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement:

The bones become stronger, the heart beats harder and better, the brain thinks clearer, because the key organs like the brain, the heart and the bones have the appropriate hormone receptors (in both sexes).  No, this is no exaggeration. This can be measured by an exercise tolerance test (for the heart). Bone density can be measured and has been done (2% to 4% increase per year). Brain function is indirectly visible to the people around the person: apart from new vitality, improvements in mood and more energy, the grumpiness is gone and the person is perceived as a pleasant person once again.

Conclusion:

The observation of an “old, grumpy man” when he entered the male menopause is accurate, but should not distract from the fact that he has a responsibility to look after himself. It is important to recognize that it is not only women who enter the menopause, but that men 10 to 15 years later will do the same. Both sexes enter a state of hormone disbalance that is treatable. The answer is to replace the hormone deficiency with the missing bioidentical hormones.

More information on male menopause (=andropause): http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/hypogonadism/secondary-hypogonadism/male-menopause/

References:

1.Rakel: Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed., copyright 2011 Saunders

2.Dr.Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“, Amazon.com, 2014

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

May
31
2014

Industry Sponsored Diet Soda Study Deceptive

Recently an industry sponsored study was reviewed by the media with this headline: “Diet soda helps weight loss, industry-funded study finds”. Before you get too excited about this study, let me tell you that you are being deceived. Essentially the study compared 150 overweight or obese people on water and a similar group of people on diet sodas. Both groups were counselled on the benefits of exercise and a healthier diet. At the end of 12 weeks the water group that did not drink diet sodas had lost 9 pounds, while the diet soda group that continued their former habit lost 13 pounds. The question now is why this 4 pound difference? The sponsor of the study would like you to think that the soda diet drink is healthier, because it helps you to lose weight. Let me explain to you that there are a few flaws in the study as follows.

1. Most often there are confounding errors in industry-sponsored studies. Even though it looks on the surface that the two groups were comparable, researchers should have checked out various parameters like sex distribution, other underlying illnesses, mental state (depressed or not etc.), diabetes and other factors to make sure that there is no metabolic bias between the two groups from the start of the study.

2. Deception built into study: we know from other studies that on the long-term diet sodas lead to weight gain by stimulating your appetite for sweets and their subsequent consumption. Often short-term studies show the opposite effect, so it would be false to assume that long-term results would be similar. But most readers who read this quickly would be tempted to think “so it must be OK to continue to consume diet soda drinks!” Off you go to the grocery store and buy another 6 or 12 pack. That’s exactly what the industry-sponsored study set out to do. Somewhere in the back-room of a big soft drink corporation the executives discussed among themselves that their statistics were bad; the sales of diet soft drinks were down; there was too much negative press fuelled by the health food industry. They had to do something about this, so they designed a study where the good guy was the diet soft drink. If the consumer is not buying the results, at least the study helped to confuse people and whenever there is confusion, at least part of the confused population will return to their old habits. After all the study showed “ it is OK”.

Industry Sponsored Diet Soda Study Deceptive

Industry Sponsored Diet Soda Study Deceptive

3. Excitotoxins are not OK. Unfortunately all artificial sweeteners are toxic to your brain, they are excitotoxins. MSG is another excitotoxin. The only exception is the natural sweetener stevia, a plant product, which is OK. Splenda is an insecticide, so this is belongs to the xenoestrogens, bad for you as it acts like a foreign estrogen and has cancer-promoting qualities when exposed to it for several decades. The rest of the artificial sweeteners are excitotoxins: they burn your brain cells very slowly and can lead to dementia. Unfortunately they are addicting and your brain will make you feel good when you drink more of it. So, the real reason why the study group on diet sodas did better than the water group is because they did not have to change that habit, there was no withdrawal to deal with and they felt fine. So they could concentrate on dieting and exercising and of course you would lose 13 pounds in 12 weeks doing that. The water group on the other hand had to cope with diet soda withdrawal and on top was challenged by an exercise and weight loss program. As there was no diet restriction, they could compensate a bit for their trouble of withdrawal and eat a few muffins or some extra bread to make up for the lack of their comfort diet drink fix (the satisfaction of consuming the excitotoxin). This slick short-term study design is what should have alarmed the publisher to ask a few hard questions.

4. There needs to be an internal logic in the study: Let’s do a thought experiment where we repeat the study and start with two comparable overweight/obese groups of people and put them on no sugar and no refined carbs for 2 weeks and also on no diet sodas for the same time. After two weeks they are both accustomed to this diet and the no diet soda habit and they have probably lost the same amount of weight from the calorie restriction. Now we start the one group on diet sodas and the other group on water, but strictly controlled for a similar calorie intake in terms of other foods or drinks as much as is humanly possible. I would predict that after 12 weeks the water group will have at least lost the same weight as the diet soda group, if not more. The diet soda group likely will have had some problems with sugar craving and may have had more dietary indiscretions (sneaking in snacks and underreporting them), but this would show up as weight gain.

You may be proud of having completed this well controlled study. The trouble is that your industry sponsor that produces the diet drinks will not like this outcome and would not allow the results to be published. In fact that kind of result would be actively suppressed.

Conclusion:

The diet soda study discussed here is a lesson in biased publishing. We are constantly bombarded by an endless string of meaningless publications that are designed to make the consumer insecure, or bias us for accepting a company’s product in the hope of achieving a certain result (like high sales). Even, if this is not accomplished the company has sold enough of their product just for giving it a try. Beware of the door-to-door sales person. This figure is very much present right in this publication. In this case it is the sales pitch of the diet soda manufacturers! You are looking at a study that was designed to make you buy more of the excitotoxin (aspartame or other artificial sweeteners), which likely contributed to your extra weight or obesity in the first place. It’s up to you to shut the door on this sales pitch. Instead of a diet soda I suggest you make your own drink: squeeze half an organic lemon and top this with mineral water of your choice. Sweeten it with a tiny amount of stevia. This has no calories and does not stimulate you to eat more sugar and starchy foods; but it quenches any thirst and you even get some water-soluble vitamins in the process.

Last edited May 31, 2014

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May
21
2014

Forty Percent Of Premature Deaths Can Be Prevented

A new report from the CDC (Center of Disease Control) in the US has revealed that up to 40% of premature deaths could be prevented by simple lifestyle changes. As this link shows every year about 900,000 premature deaths occur in the US, which are due to 5 major diseases that in the opinion of the CDC can be prevented by 20 to 40%. Here are the diseases that kill: cancer, heart disease, COPD/emphysema, stroke and accidents/injuries. These conditions were responsible for 63% of all deaths in the US in 2010.

Let’s discuss each of these conditions and how one could lower the risk of dying from them.

1. Cancer:

The Framingham Heart Study has shown that smoking and cancer are closely related. Smokers who quit can significantly reduce their risk of getting cancer. We also know that exercise and prophylactic supplements like fish oil and vitamin D3 have cancer preventative effects.

Antioxidant supplementation that included beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E daily or on alternate days for 1 to 12 years, along with selenium supplementation reduced the incidence of cancer of the esophagus, colon, pancreas, stomach or the liver. Insulin resistance due to sugar and starch overconsumption is causing cancer, particularly breast cancer, colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer. I have discussed this in a recent blog.

Pollution has been linked to increased lung cancer risks as discussed here.

2. Heart disease:

Heart disease can be caused by several factors in combination. Lifestyle issues are important: Smokers need to quit smoking as the Framingham Heart Study has shown more than fifty years ago that smoking causes heart attacks. Obesity and diabetes also contribute significantly to the risk of heart disease. Often these are connected to faulty nutrition, which is another lifestyle issue that comes to mind when too much sugar and starchy foods are taken in; your liver will convert these into fatty acids, triglycerides and elevated, oxidized LDL cholesterol, which gets deposited under the lining of the arteries. A lack of exercise adds to this problem as a lack of exercise lowers the protective HDL cholesterol and fat is deposited under the lining of the arteries. Start exercising and your protective HDL cholesterol will rise, your total cholesterol to HDL ratio will lower to healthier levels and your risk for hardening of the arteries and for getting a heart attack will fall. If you have diabetes, it is important that you manage your blood sugars well; this means that if you inject insulin, you want the blood sugar tests to be within the normal range and the hemoglobin A1C values to be below 5.5%. Poorly controlled diabetes is an important cause of heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure is also an important cause of developing heart attacks and strokes. It is important to control your blood pressure by taking blood pressure lowering pills and also by exercising regularly. Exercise seems to send a signal to relax the blood vessels thus lowering the blood pressure, which in turn prevents heart attacks.

Forty Percent Of Premature Deaths Can Be Prevented

Forty Percent Of Premature Deaths Can Be Prevented

 

3. COPD/emphysema:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema is mostly caused by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke from smoking. The earlier you can quit, the better your chances that your breathing will not be the limiting factor when you age. But it is also important to avoid exposure to other noxious gases, such as from welding and from exposure to pollution. This may involve a decision to move to a less polluted area. Or it might involve a job retraining. Those who are suffering from COPD can be helped to a certain extent by a portable oxygen tank with nasal prongs.

4. Stroke:

As mentioned before, quitting smoking, controlling high blood pressure and controlling blood sugar, if you suffer from diabetes have been shown to stabilize your blood vessels including the ones that supply your brain. The key is to prevent hardening of the arteries by a healthy lifestyle. Exercising and keeping your weight under a body mass index of 25.0 have been shown to be effective stroke prevention. Healthy nutrition as indicated above under “heart disease” is equally important for stroke prevention. Go green (eat more vegetables, consume more green smoothies), cut down grains, sugar and starchy foods and you will live longer without strokes and heart attacks. Remember, what’s good for your heart is good for your brain!

5. Unintentional accidents/injuries:

Wearing helmets when bicycling, wearing seat belts when driving in a car, avoiding risky behaviors are all measures that save lives. One factor stands out in all of this: if you drink too much, you run the risk of being involved in unintentional accidents or injuries. People may not like to hear this, but your brain lacks the natural inhibitory impulses when you are under the influence of alcohol, so you become more daring and you may not pay attention for the split second that could have prevented an injury or accident. People react very differently to alcohol. Some people feel inebriated after only ½ a glass of wine or beer whereas others can drink more before they make mistakes. The best is to be sober when you drive, ski, use power tools or walk in traffic. Even climbing ladders requires a clear mind!

Conclusion:

As the CDC said 20 to 40% of premature deaths (deaths that occurred before the age of 80) could have been prevented, if the above-mentioned recommendations were followed. Let me rephrase this: 180,000 to 360,000 premature deaths every year in the US before the age of 80 could have been prevented! Curative medicine cannot help with these statistics as a heart attack or stroke has happened when it has struck you. Cancer and end stage lung disease are similar conditions that you are suddenly faced with when they occur and unintentional accidents just seem to happen. This is where the importance of prevention can be seen, because these little baby steps every day are adding up to something formidable, a force to be reckoned with. Be part of the solution, think prevention!

More information on:

1. Cancer mortality: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/overview/cancer-mortality-rate/

2. Higher vitamin D3 intake lowers mortality from heart attacks, strokes, cancer, fractures due to osteoporosis: http://nethealthbook.com/news/higher-vitamin-d-levels-associated-lower-risk-mortality/

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

Apr
30
2014

Overuse Of Supplements Can Create Health Risks

The Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act of 1994 made it easier for people to acquire supplements and vitamins from health food stores. But since then there has been a proliferation of various products that are sold as supplements and not as drugs. It may give you the impression that all supplements are harmless, but this is not so. There are some supplements like vitamin A where you need to watch that you are not inadvertently overdosing, as toxicity is a problem; calcium supplements are also potentially toxic, if overdone. And amino acid supplements (protein supplements) can lead to an overdose of brain hormones. Here is a sample of some of the supplements that I would want you to watch.

1.Vitamin A toxicity:

Vitamin A is essential for normal night vision, for red blood cell production in the bone marrow and for the immune system. Here is a brief review about its metabolism. But while small amounts are beneficial for the body, high doses are toxic. In the 19th century the Arctic explorer Elisha Kane reported that consumption of polar bear liver caused severe headaches, drowsiness, irritability and vomiting within a few hours of ingesting it.

It is now known to be due to “pseudotumor cerebri”, a condition that mimics a brain tumor, but is caused by an acute overdose of vitamin A contained in liver (Ref. 1).

In the US where people eat enough meat, fish and dairy products, there is no overt vitamin A deficiency. Read this link to avoid overdosing with vitamin A in multiple supplements.

Overuse Of Supplements Can Create Health Risks

Overuse Of Supplements Can Create Health Risks

2. Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant vitamin and is needed as a co-factor for many metabolic reactions. It is participating in the production of collagen and connective tissues, helps with fatty acid transport and is necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain (Ref.2). The lack of vitamin C is known as scurvy; symptoms include bleeding gums from fragile capillaries, delay in wound healing and impaired bone metabolism. Although in the earlier research it was hoped that vitamin C would prevent colds and cure cancer, more recent reevaluations found that it does not prevent you from getting colds, but it accelerates the recovery from colds by cutting down the recovery time by as much as 25 to 30% and it also does have some cancer protective effects (Ref.2). Higher doses seem to be more beneficial, but 1500 mg per day seems to now be the consensus of a reasonable upper dose limit per day.

What about kidney stones? Several studies in the past have warned about vitamin C being broken down in some people into calcium oxalate kidney stones. Here is a brief review of the literature with regard to kidney stone formation. A study regarding the DASH diet, which is used for people with high blood pressure, showed that the incidence of kidney stones is almost half for both men and women compared to controls on a normal North American diet.

There has been a concern among the medical community that vitamin C as a supplement would increase kidney stones (oxalate stones). However a 2014 study showed that when both vitamin C and vitamin E are taken as supplements, the kidney stone formation goes down.

Many inhabitants of industrialized countries including the population in the US and other countries are magnesium deficient and this can be a major factor for forming calcium oxalate stones. But it has been known for decades that those who develop kidney stones excrete more oxalates in their urine (so-called “oxalate excreters”). Here is a 1996 study that measured this in detail.

If you are taking in a lot of green smoothies from green leaf vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard) that are high in water-soluble vitamins, you may not require any vitamin C supplements. In other words, think about what else you do and eat and add it up, so you do not exceed a total of 1500 mg to 2000 mg of vitamin C per day.

If you are taking in a lot of green smoothies from green leaf vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard) that are high in water-soluble vitamins, you may not require any vitamin C supplements. In other words, think about what else you do and eat and add it up, so you do not exceed a total of 1500 mg of vitamin C per day.

3. Calcium supplements:

Calcium is a key mineral in the body, important not only for healthy bone structure, but also to balance the electrolytes within the blood, in the extra cellular fluid space and within our cells. If calcium is low, the brain is more prone to seizures and the heart can produce dangerously irregular heart beats. We definitely need a balance of calcium! Because calcium is so central to our wellbeing, several factors work together to keep our calcium levels stable: the kidneys, the thyroid, the parathyroid glands, the adrenal glands, the bone as a reservoir of calcium, the gastrointestinal tract for absorption and a good, balanced nutrition. The chapter on “Vitamins and Minerals” of Ref.3 points out that 4000 mg of calcium per day definitely causes toxicity (hypercalcemia and milk-alkali syndrome).

Absorption is dose dependent meaning that only 500mg of calcium carbonate is absorbed at a time. Vitamin D3 deficiency leads to reduced calcium absorption. But with high doses of vitamin D3, which is now often recommended, more calcium is absorbed, so it is important not to take too many calcium supplements. They can also interfere with iron and zinc absorption and when more than 2600 mg of calcium is taken magnesium absorption is inhibited as well. Calcium can interfere with thyroid hormone supplements (take 4 hours apart) and may reduce the effect of calcium channel blockers, drugs used for angina or high blood pressure.  There is a balance between calcium stored in bone (99% of total body calcium) and the circulating portion of 1% of calcium in the blood. The parathyroid hormone and calcitonin are also involved in this balance. Hypercalcemia is the condition when calcium is too high. Common causes are the improper use of diuretics (thiazide diuretics), overuse of calcium carbonate supplementation (often for osteoporosis) and overuse of vitamin D3, which increases the absorption of calcium (Ref.3). See your family doctor for blood tests and advice what to do in your case.

4. High protein diets and protein (amino acid) supplements:

Many protein supplements are available through health food stores and vitamin stores. The advertisers often state that our food would be substandard and these supplements would help “to regain strength”.  Athletes hope to get stronger muscles from amino acid supplements because they are the building block for protein that builds up muscles. Fact is that no supplements are needed when you eat balanced meals containing meat and fish and you exercise regularly. The protein in your food will be broken down into amino acids and your body metabolizes this into your own protein. Here is a website that reviews the subject of supplementation with amino acids.

It is clear from this that this is a rather complex problem. Vegetarians may require these supplements to replace protein for the missing meat intake. But the rest of us have to guard ourselves against overdosing with too much meat, amino acids supplements or protein supplements.

High protein diets (Atkins diet and others) have been glorified as being helpful for weight loss. But the long-term effect of such diets lead to chronic kidney damage in those with diabetes and high blood pressure as evidenced by protein leakage in the urine (called ”microalbuminuria”, Ref.4).

According to this reference the average protein requirement is 0.6 g of protein/kg body weight/day. This text comments that this would be compatible with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for protein intake. For a person weighing 140 lbs. this translates into about 50 grams of protein per day. Here is a website that explains the upper limit of meat intake with the example of an 8-ounce portion of top sirloin steak.

Protein supplements have become very popular, but you need to be careful when you supplement with this that you do not get an overdose of amino acids. Amino acid profiling has been useful for physicians and naturopaths to examine deficiencies in children or adults checking for essential amino acids in the blood.  However, in the industrialized countries such as the US, Canada and others the larger concern is now the overuse of meat in our food (e.g. Atkins-like diets) and protein supplements. The same amino acid screening tests will find several of the ingredients (amino acids) in these protein supplements to be too high. In this case it is imperative to stop the protein supplements to prevent amino acid toxicity.

This study warns that not enough is known how performance-enhancing supplements affect the metabolism of the body. There are discussions that perhaps upper limits for amino acid supplements need to be established:

5. Creatine supplementation:

Other supplements of concern are creatine supplementation in the sports-minded and in athletes who want to build up muscle mass. Creatine is synthesized by the liver form amino acids derived from fish and meat that is broken down into the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. So, there is no shortage, but athletes and sports minded people want to push the envelope and take in additional creatine that helps their energy metabolism (ATP production) in the muscles to increase their performance (Ref. 5) Creatine is vital for the brain, the heart, the kidneys and the eyes (retina). It is a buffer for lactic acid during anaerobic exercise. Some of the side effects are muscle cramps, diarrhea, fluid retention and kidney failure when exposed to high heat and dehydration. There are no long-term studies of the use of creatine supplements, yet some athletes are taking them long-term.

Conclusion:

We are tempted by various merchants and infomercials to take in more and more vitamins and supplements including protein and amino acid supplements. But when you eat well-balanced meals, preferably organic food, you already have enough protein, nutrients, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A contained in food. So you may be inadvertently putting a strain on your kidneys that have to eliminate whatever it is that is too much for your body to take. Your liver may also be quietly working overtime as well. Your brain gets overactive by the surplus of amino acids that are utilized by the brain to make brain hormones. Your system can only take so much; at one point a surplus of supplements will make you sick! So, be vigilant and think about what your regular food intake already provides. Do you really need that supplement or do you already get enough from your food intake? Are you falling for some marketing scheme? Remember, you are the steward of your own health!

References:

1.Shannon: Chapter 69: The Vitamins. Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed.© 2007 Saunders

2. Mandell: “Water-Soluble Vitamins”. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed. © 2009 Churchill Livingstone

3. Rakel: Chapter “Disturbances in Calcium and Phosphate” and chapter entitled “Vitamins and Minerals”. Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed. © 2011 Saunders

4. “High Dietary Protein Intake” in “Taal: Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney”, 9th ed. © 2011 Saunders

5. DeLee: DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, 3rd ed. © 2009 Saunders

Last edited April 30, 2014

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Apr
12
2014

Lead Still Poisoning Us

We are living in an environment that puts emphasis on quality control, and companies around us take pride in their high quality products, supervised by the FDA. This is how it ideally should be. But is it really? Unfortunately not!

I read the headlines about lipsticks on April 4, 2014 and could not believe it!

When it comes to skin care or cosmetic products, things start to get scary.  Skin is not a barrier, but it is an organ of our body. From skin cream and ointment applications in medicine it is known that pharmaceutical compounds can be applied to the skin, and this way the body can readily absorb active substances.

When it comes to cosmetics, the skin areas to which cosmetics are applied have softer skin, for example the mouth. The vulnerable skin of the lips can readily absorb any chemical substance, and this is where health concerns get even more serious.

In 2010 as the above link shows the FDA determined that all of the “400 lipsticks tested had traces of lead in them, ranging from 0.9 to 3.06 ppm. Another study from California noted that there were other toxic metals in lip sticks and lip glosses containing chromium, cadmium, manganese, aluminum in addition to lead. Even to the unconcerned this sounds like a precarious cocktail of noxious substances! On June 1, 2013 I wrote a blog about toxins in the bathroom. I mentioned the dirty dozen of chemicals that repeatedly are found in cosmetics. With this new information of traces of lead still being in cosmetics, more so than previously reported, women need to be more careful about the choice of lipsticks that they are using.

1.History of lipsticks:

This overview explains that the long-lasting lipstick was only invented around the 1950’s (“Sticks on you, not on him” was the slogan).

Traces of lead were often recorded, but not really thought to be that dangerous. The thinking of the FDA at that time was that children needed to be protected from lead in house paints, but nobody mentioned that lead was part of the red pigment and therefore had to be part of a lipstick. The FDA did know this, but the concentration was supposed to be so small and absorption was thought to be negligible, so considered to be safe for an adult.

Lead Still Poisoning Us

Lead Still Poisoning Us

2. Evidence of considerable absorption of lead:

We know from several studies summarized in this link that various components of cosmetics including lipsticks and lip-glosses get absorbed through the skin. Lead is no exception to this. A 2011 study showed in children in Africa that lead-containing cosmetics for tribal ceremonies in children had higher lead concentrations in their blood than children who did not use these cosmetics.

When doing a PubMed review on the subject I came across a very interesting study: In India there is a practice that parents apply kajal (also called kohl or surma cosmetic) around their eyes, on old traditional practice. Unfortunately this is a lead-containing cosmetic, which is absorbed into the blood and can cause lead poisoning. According to this ancient belief this application of cosmetics around the eyes would keep their eyes cool and clean and is supposed to improve vision, strengthen the eyes and prevent eye diseases. None of these belief are compatible with Western medicine (although a lot of the Ayurveda medicine is valid).

In another 2010 study done in the mountainous Aseer region in the Southwest of Saudi Arabia here there is pristine air quality, 176 pregnant patients with a single baby were followed to see whether there was an effect with regard to lead poisoning in the offspring. Two groups of women were identified, those with lead levels of more than 200 mcg/L in the blood and another group with less than 200 mcg/L. The researchers noted that there was no difference with regard to prematurity, size of the baby or premature rupture of membranes (premature birth).

The conclusion of this study was that there was significant absorption of lead from 100% lead sulfide eye cosmetic “kohl” only on those who used it. To my surprise nobody mentioned anything about the lead levels in the children, which is an example of compartmentalization of science. Common sense would dictate that these children who were at higher risk from mothers with over 200 mcg/L should have received chelation treatments to remove lead (we do this in Western medicine!).

3. Different lip sticks and lip glosses analyzed in Europe and in the US:

A European study showed that 31% of lipsticks and 4% of lip glosses tested positive for lead. All of them had less than 0.88 mg/kg of lead (less than 1 mg/kg). Pink lipstick or lip gloss (0.81 and 0.38mg/kg) tested lower than purple lipstick or lip gloss (0.88 and 0.37mg/kg) and red (0.58 and 0.25mg/kg), but purple tested the highest! I did not know that until now when I researched this.  On average the tests show that the gloss has half the concentration of the lipstick.

Don’t be fooled by the difference in recommended safe levels in Canada (10 mg/kg) and Germany (20 mg/kg). Germany has a very powerful chemical industry with lobbyists that likely lead to this higher “safe” level. In Canada it is the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada. No country got it right so far:  A zero tolerance (meaning a blood level of 0 mg/kg in babies and adults alike) is the only solution for humans. A little bit over a long time can lead to chronic chronic lead poisoning.

One other interesting tidbit for those who need to apply something to their lips:

The more expensive lipsticks had much less lead in it than the cheaper varieties (don’t buy the dollar store brands).

Contrast this to an FDA initiated study between 2009 and 2012, published in 2012 that showed that the average lipstick concentration in 400 lipsticks tested  was 1.11 mg/kg, but the highest concentration was 7.19 mg/kg and 13 of them tested 3.06 mg/kg. Here is another review that shows more details (ppm equals mg/kg, so you can compare directly with the figures above. As stated before, in my opinion and that of toxicologists around the world who are the real experts in this a “0 mg/kg” level (no lead in the body) should be the acceptable norm!

Only organic lipsticks and lip-glosses are recommended, if you must wear any of such products. Here is a helpful blog that tells you more positive news (lead and chemical free products).

4. What are the effects of chronic low lead exposure?

Adult lead toxicity is not as common as in the past. Painters in the decades leading up to the 1970’s when laws became more stringent were the ones mostly affected (Ref.1). Keep in mind that more than 30 million tons of lead was released into the air in the US before the lead ban finally remedied this in the 1970’s.  This phasing out was completed in 1995. The mean blood lead levels of Americans declined by 35% since. The EPA is monitoring lead levels in public water systems.

Lead is a nerve poison. It leads to fatigue, insomnia, irritability, lethargy, headaches, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and tremor. It can also affect the nerves of the extremities, more so in the arms than the legs, which was significant in the past century among painters using lead paints. (“Upper extremity paresis” found in painters). Chronic lead poisoning targets the kidneys and the bone marrow. In the kidneys leakage of the filtration units, called glomeruli, leads to loss of microglobulins that can be measured in the urine among other tests. Above a level of 30 mcg/dL (this is the same as above 300 mcg/L) electrophysiological studies reveal often the ulnar nerve conduction is disturbed, which is the cause for the arm weakness in painters. The bone marrow toxicity can be seen in stippling of red blood cells and anemia develops subsequently. High blood pressure and fertility issues are also common (low sperm count in men, higher rate of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths in women). The gums around the teeth show lead lines (blue discoloration).  I will not get into lead toxicity in children, as this is a big topic of its own. Needless to say symptoms are much worse as any pediatrician can tell you. It goes without saying that should you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor and have appropriate tests done.

5. Treatment and prevention:

As we do not see acute lead poisoning as much as in the past, except sadly to say still in development countries and highly industrialized areas with lead emissions into the air, I like to emphasize the importance of prevention here.

a)    If you absolutely must have make-up and/or lip sticks or lip gloss, at least go for the expensive, organic products. You owe it to yourself. However, having said that keep in mind that anything you put on your skin anywhere is absorbed to a certain percentage. So, why mess with your body’s metabolism? I really question this. For your skin you can use a product called “Youth serum” from LifeExtension, where only a few drops will suffice to cover your face and neck with a thin film. Within a few seconds this is absorbed into the skin and it will stimulate your skin to grow where wrinkles are, so the wrinkles flatten out in time.

b)    Keep in mind that skin appearance is hormone dependent, males need testosterone as they age and women need bioidentical progesterone. The first link under point 2 above claims that progesterone would be cancer producing. This is not true: it is progestin, a synthetic copy of progesterone that does this. So, bioidentical progesterone in cosmetics would be cancer preventing in women (men should stay away from a woman who has applied this for at least two hours as skin transfer will block testosterone production). Worse still: if a manufacturer uses progestin (the synthetic version), the traces of it over a long period of time will act like xenoestrogens, which can cause breast cancer in the woman who uses such a product and through transfer can cause prostate cancer in a man.

c)    If you insist on using chemicals on your skin, you may want to consider seeing a naturopathic physician who does intravenous chelation. Lab tests are available to assess the levels of heavy metals and toxins in your body. If the levels are creeping up, chelation treatments from time to time may be needed in people with measured elevations of lead levels in blood tests and/or urinary lead level elevations.  Discuss this with your doctor.  Removal of any accumulated mercury, lead, and cadmium or other heavy metals will be an option. I have summarized detoxification methods elsewhere.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I think that it has to be carefully considered, how much use of lipstick application is necessary. Next the choice of a high quality product is of utmost importance. Taking all the factors together, its constant use cannot be recommended, especially since there is not only lead present, which is a known health hazard. Beside lead there are many other chemicals that get absorbed and their effects have not been adequately tested by the agencies.

More information on vitamins and detoxification: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

References:

1. Shannon: Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed. Chapter 73, “Lead” by Michael W. Shannon, MD, MPH © 2007, Saunders

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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