Aug
07
2021

A New Disease, Long Covid

Some of the Covid cases do not resolve; this created a new disease, long Covid. The German news magazine “Der Stern” described this in detail. I summarized this in  English here. The English literature also mentions long Covid. Certainly, physicians learnt from observing the course of many Covid-19 cases. It is important to realize that they did not all heal. Some of them seemed to resolve, but then they reoccurred. Other patients suffer from ongoing exhaustion, shortness of breath, tiredness and pains.

When do physicians diagnose long Covid?

If symptoms of Covid-19 do not resolve within 4 weeks after the beginning, physicians diagnose this condition as long Covid. Different subtypes exist.

  • Persistent symptomatic Covid-19: Covid-19 symptoms persist between 4 and 12 weeks from the beginning of Covid-19.
  • Post Covid-19 syndrome: After more than 12 weeks the patient still has Covid-19 symptoms.
  • Long Covid: when a patient develops new Covid-19 symptoms or still has symptoms beyond 4 weeks after Covid-19 physicians diagnose the patient with long Covid.

Who is getting long Covid?

A longitudinal study showed that about 1 in 10 Covid-19 cases can turn into long Covid. In some cases, this can develop out of relatively benign courses of Covid-19 cases. In other cases, a severe Covid-19 case can develop into long Covid. Notably, a research study identified risk major factors for developing long Covid. They found that increasing age, an increased body mass index and female sex were risk factors for developing long Covid. Persistent symptoms of headaches, fatigue, difficulties to breathe and a loss of smell characterize the presence of long Covid. Another criterion was whether a person had to be treated in an ICU setting during the acute phase of Covid-19. These people are at a higher risk to develop long Covid at a later time.

Long Covid symptoms

The most common symptoms of long Covid are tiredness, headaches, problems breathing, concentrating and circulation problems. But fast heart beats, sleeping disorders, chronic pains and hypersensitivity to light and sound are also part of the symptom complex. Researchers found that in 70% of patients with long Covid one or more organs were damaged by the virus. All the affected organs had ACE2 cell receptors. Many patients with long Covid have lung problems.

Pre-existing lung problems

According to one review it was mainly patients with pre-existing lung problems, older patients or patients who had other pre-existing health problems who developed lung complications. 3-5% of long Covid patients can also develop heart problems. Most patients have reduced pumping capacity, heart muscle inflammation, pericardial inflammation or scarred heart tissue. One symptom is very common: fatigue, which is a state of persistent tiredness, exhaustion and listlessness that cannot be managed with sleep. These are the symptoms of a new disease, long Covid.

Treatment possibilities for long Covid patients

The therapy is based on the symptoms. A guideline on post/long Covid, which was recently published jointly by several professional societies, states that there is still no scientifically reliable evidence for a specific therapy. The guideline lists diagnostic recommendations as well as therapy options for various symptoms such as fatigue, olfactory disorders, cardiological, neurological and psychiatric aspects.

Oxygen therapy

The researchers are currently working on a variety of different treatment approaches. Oxygen therapy is one of them. Hyperbaric oxygen tanks are used for this. Patients breathe pure oxygen in these tanks for about two hours a day for several weeks. The first patients treated with this oxygen therapy have reported positive effects according to Dr. Ullrich Siekmann in Aachen, Germany. Further studies, however, are required to confirm these preliminary investigations.

Blood washing or HELP apheresis

Doctors see another possibility of treatment in blood washing. With the so-called “HELP apheresis“, the blood is freed from harmful substances in a similar way to dialysis in kidney failure patients. Blood washing is already in use for people who have had strokes or heart attacks and where other medicines do not help. Researchers used this procedure also for long Covid patients.

Supplements that may help

According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board-certified internist, these supplements may be helpful: N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), glutathione, CuraMed (a curcumin supplement), and omega-3 supplementation. These supplements treat chronic inflammation.

A New Disease, Long Covid

A New Disease, Long Covid

Conclusion

Long Covid is a sub-category of Covid-19 in patients whose symptoms do not resolve. This is subject to intensive research, which I summarized here. These patients have characteristic symptoms. Newer treatment options seem to consist of pressurized oxygen therapy and of blood washing with the name of “HELP apheresis”. Certain supplements that are anti-inflammatory may also be of benefit. Despite these new efforts this leaves many patients with organ damage and continuing chronic symptoms.

Jan
09
2021

Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

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

Melatonin deficiency causing aging and various illnesses

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

The many clinical effects of melatonin

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

But besides that, melatonin has many other clinical effects.

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

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

Melatonin’s actions against the aging process 

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

More actions of melatonin

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

Prevention of cognitive decline

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

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

Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Conclusion

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

Jun
13
2020

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Attacks and Strokes in Diabetes

A recent publication came to the conclusion that a Mediterranean diet reduces heart attacks and strokes in diabetes. This Canadian and Spanish study compared prospective cohort studies and randomized trials (RCT). 41 reports (3 RCTs and 38 cohorts) formed the basis for this analysis.

Details of the study

Metaanalysis showed that a Mediterranean diet reduced the cardiovascular disease incidence by 38%. It also reduced myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) by 35%. Next the authors compared the highest to the lowest adherents to the Mediterranean diet (Med diet). The highest Med diet adherents showed the following reductions:

Cardiovascular disease mortality: 21%

Coronary heart disease incidence: 27%

Coronary heart disease mortality: 17%

Stroke incidence: 20%

Stroke mortality: 13%

The conclusion was that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial to prevent heart disease and strokes in people with diabetes.

Other studies

In a study from the United Kingdom dated March 2019 several clinical trials were analyzed regarding non-diabetic populations. Again, the question came up, what the effect of a Mediterranean diet was on cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality. The authors reviewed 30 RCTs (49 papers) with12,461 randomized participants and seven ongoing trials. In one study the observation time was 46 months. A Mediterranean diet reduced the cardiovascular disease mortality by 65%!

Another study from Spain published in 2019 examined 7356 older adults (average 67 years) and followed them for 6.8 years. The investigators kept track of the physical activity and put everybody except the controls on a Mediterranean diet. The group on the lightest leisure-time physical activity consuming a Mediterranean diet had the lowest mortality. The all-cause mortality of this group was 73% lower than the control group.

What is so healthy about the Mediterranean diet?

Despite a wide variation between all the 15 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, there are common characteristics: an abundance of vegetables and fruit, along with nuts and legumes. Cereal products are largely whole grain. Olive oil is the principal fat source, and people eat fish, seafoods and poultry in moderation. They consume red meat rarely. Cheese and yogurt can be part of the diet, depending on the region.

The first clinical evidence supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet came from the Lyon Heart Study. The researchers placed patients who had a heart attack either on the diet designed by the American Heart Association or a Mediterranean style diet. After a follow-up of 27 months, the group eating the Mediterranean diet had a reduction of heart attacks by 73% and a decreased mortality by 70% compared to the other group.

More detail on the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet

An analysis of the various foods of the Mediterranean diet shows the reasons for the health benefits clearly. The fats that people on a Mediterranean diet eat are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil or fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids. They come from fish (tuna, salmon, trout, sardines) or from plant sources (walnuts, other tree nuts and flax seed).

As there is an emphasis on natural foods, the diet is extremely low in trans fatty acids (hydrogenated fats), which increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. As people consume more than 300g of vegetables per capita daily, the contents of antioxidants and other beneficial plant chemicals is much higher in comparison to Western diets. There are many individual components of the Mediterranean diet that contribute to the reduction of disease. This is particularly true for heart disease. It also is apparent, that it is not one single food or nutrient that is responsible for the health benefits. What matters are the interactive effects of all the nutrients that lead to the health benefits.

No processed food means healthier living

The practical application does not mean deprivation and starvation, but a move away from processed fats (margarine), baked goods (donuts, muffins, pastries), and high saturated fat snacks and trans fats (chips, crackers, cookies, pies). Food choices move towards those of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Portions or servings have to be adequate to maintain a healthy weight.

Mediterranean food is not the heaping plate of pasta with an afterthought of vegetables. It also is not the super-size fast food pizza with pepperoni and cheese. Mediterranean food incorporates fresh food rather than the fast food. It entails a shift from large portions of red meat to smaller portions of fish, a transition from highly processed foods to ample helpings of dark green vegetables with a dose of olive oil. Low amounts of alcohol, especially red wine can make a meal enjoyable, which means one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. And after dinner go for a walk!

Olive oil is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy

In the past it was thought that the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil would be the reason why it is protective of the heart. However, newer studies have shown that it is the polyphenols and among these in particular hydroxytyrosol that lower blood pressure and protect you from hardening of the arteries.

In a 2012 study from Spain it was found that mortality from heart attacks was 44% lower than that of a control group who did not incorporate olive oil in their diet.

How polyphenols in olive oil work for you

Only two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day protect you from heart disease. It does so by reducing the total cholesterol level in the blood as well as the LDL cholesterol level. When there is more polyphenol in olive oil (such as in extra virgin olive oil), the body produces more HDL, which is essential to extract oxidized LDL from arterial plaque. On top of that polyphenol rich olive oil will increase the size of the HDL particles (these larger particles are called HDL2), which are more efficient in extracting oxidized LDL from arterial plaques. A Sept. 2014 study in humans showed that higher polyphenol olive oil as found in extra virgin olive oil caused an increase in the more effective HDL2 particles, which cleans out plaques from arteries more efficiently than the regular, cheaper olive oil.

Endothelial function

The endothelium is the lining of the arteries. Normal endothelial functioning involves widening of the arteries and maintaining its flexibility. The body achieves this through production of a signal molecule, called nitric oxide; the endothelial cells that line our arteries from inside produce it. Exercise increases the production of nitric oxide as well (Ref.1).

In a group of patients with poor endothelial function 2 tablespoons of olive oil (polyphenol rich) per day given over 4 months (the time of the study) showed a significant improvement of endothelial function.

The authors suggested that an enzyme in the endothelial cells, called nitric oxide synthase is being stimulated by components of polyphenol-rich olive oil. This leads to protracted release of nitric oxide, which in turn keeps blood vessels flexible and wide open. Other investigators found that olive oil can influence even a hereditary gene variant of endothelial nitric oxide synthase found in people with a history of premature heart attacks. This high-risk group of people should take extra virgin olive oil regularly to prevent premature heart attacks and strokes.

Endothelial dysfunction occurs when the arteries no longer can deliver adequate amounts of blood to vital organs like the heart or the brain. Endothelial dysfunction is also present in patients with type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Introducing extra virgin olive oil in the diet of these patients will help restore their endothelial function.

Lowering blood pressure

In a study on 23 hypertensive patients it was shown as far back as in 2000 that extra virgin olive oil over 6 months allowed physicians to reduce high blood pressure medications by 48%. When the study was crossed over, the reverse was the case for the control group on sunflower oil. The polyphenols of olive oil released nitric oxide, which is known to lower blood pressure. This is an important finding. High blood pressure is a risk factor for the development of hardening of the coronary arteries. This leads to heart attacks, congestive heart failure, but also stroke. Regular intake of 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil often will reverse high blood pressure and restore normal endothelial function.

Preventing heart attacks and strokes

In April of 2013 The New England Journal of Medicine published a Spanish diet study that showed that a participants on a Mediterranean diet with olive oil or nuts had 30% less heart attacks over 5 years than people on a low fat control diet. Other studies have also shown that olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids play a big role in preventing heart attacks and strokes. We also know that regular exercise reduces the risk further; so does keeping your body mass index below 25.0. Extra virgin olive oil is part of the protection from heart attacks and strokes. The study did not show any protection against cancer.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Attacks and Strokes in Diabetes

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Attacks and Strokes in Diabetes

Conclusion

A Mediterranean diet reduced heart attacks and strokes in diabetic patients, but also in patients without diabetes. Here I attempted to show what the ingredients of a Mediterranean diet are that lead to such astounding positive effects. There is an emphasis on vegetables and fresh ingredients of food. In addition, olive oil and a lack of processed food are also important. With these wholesome ingredients the lining of the arteries works best. The body reduces cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. The end result is that there are less heart attacks and strokes, and people live longer.

Note: Part of this was previously published here and also here.

Apr
25
2020

Exosomes can Regenerate Your Stem Cells

Dr. Douglas J. Spiel gave a talk on how exosomes can regenerate your stem cells. In essence, this was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. His original topic was: “Placental MSC Exosomes for Longevity and Chronic Disease”. Notably, MSC stands for “mesenchymal stem cells”. Dr. Spiel recommended this website to look at applications of exosome therapy.

Essentially, what scientist found is that certain factors from stem cells can activate your own stem cells to regenerate tissues that grow old. These factors are messenger RNA (mRNA) and micro RNA (miRNA), which come as tiny particles of 40‐100 nm.

Advantages of administering exosomes

To emphasize, exosomes can be given systemically as infusion, and they can regenerate your stem cells, if they are in need of treatment. They cross the blood brain barrier, so it is possible to treat brain diseases. That is to say, there is no first-pass removal in the lungs as it is with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). The potency is related to the age of the donor and his/her stem cells. Notably, exosomes are easy to store, freeze and administer.

Exosomes influence the growth of target cells and promote regeneration. In addition, exosomes stimulate immunomodulation and have anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties. To clarify, the only limitations are that the strength of the exosomes is related to the age of the blood donor. The exosome fraction comes from mesenchymal stem cells. That is to say, it circulates in the plasma portion of the blood, which is obtained by spinning blood cells down in a centrifuge. To emphasize, exosomes can regenerate your stem cells.

Applications of exosomes for various clinical conditions

Joint inflammation

Mesenchymal stem cells are useful to treat arthritis. But it is important to realize that exosomes from mesenchymal stem cells are doing the same by stimulating the body’s own stem cells situated in the joints. In fact, several target cells have been identified that are stimulated by exosomes. These are chondrocytes, chondrocyte progenitor cells, cartilage-derived stem cells and synovium‐resident multipotent progenitor cells. In addition, other target cells are osteoblasts and osteoclasts in resident MSC within the subchondral bone and chondrogenic cells in the knee joint.

Disc degeneration  

Degenerative intervertebral discs respond to exosome treatments. The IL1 beta cytokine is involved in intervertebral disc degeneration. Exosomes inactivate these cytokines and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Exosomes are not all the same. Different sub-fractions were isolated that have anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, antioxidant and other effects on the body.

Aging research

Researchers were able to pinpoint aging to various factors that contribute to premature aging. To clarify, when there is a decrease of catabolic processes and an increase of anabolic processes, an older person can combat premature senescence. Another key point, aging is also linked to redox homeostasis. Simply put, oxygenation processes in the body need to be balanced by reduction processes. This keeps the body in a healthy state. ADP/NADH production can be stimulated by exosomes.

Longevity comes from good lifestyles

With the use of exosomes, the aging process slows down, as oxidative stress is neutralized, damaged mitochondria are removed and cellular debris as well. That is to say, this improves inflammation and premature aging.

As has been noted, in the past 200 years life expectancy has doubled in most countries. 4 areas where longevity is particularly common are: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica and Loma Linda, USA. Only 7% of longevity stems from genetic factors, the rest is from lifestyles we adopt. In the final analysis, people who die prematurely followed a very poor lifestyle causing them to develop diseases, which ultimately killed them.

Clinical diseases from aging

Ultimately, advanced aging puts you at risk of getting cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), cancer and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease). From the third decade onwards, there is the risk of bone loss, which causes osteoporosis. As has been noted, loss of cartilage causes osteoarthritis. Loss of muscle strength and muscle mass is called sarcopenia. With aging there is often an accumulation of abdominal fat. Hormones are disbalanced. Blood pressure is often elevated and blood lipids as well. Insulin resistance can develop and the blood vessels become stiffer. This causes heart attacks and strokes.

The details of the aging process are much more complicated than originally thought of. There is a combination of aging of the DNA, mitochondrial aging, stem cell exhaustion and a change of intercellular communication due to dysregulated endocrine signalling. In addition, there is a decline of the immune system and epigenetic factors that can turn off longevity genes.

Oxidative stress as a cause of premature aging

Dr. Spiel pointed out that reactive oxidative species (also known as free radicals) cause damage to mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA. But we need the energy from the mitochondria for a comfortable life. In essence, antioxidants can neutralize free radicals. Age-related conditions due to oxidative stress are: cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, frailty and sarcopenia. Surely, both reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen are free radicals. They have one or more unpaired electrons and all aerobic body cells produce them. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) cause oxidative damage to our cells and contribute to the development the diseases just mentioned.

Antioxidants help to prevent diseases

But antioxidants can contain these free radicals in various ways. The body has five built-in enzymatic ways to protect itself and five non-enzymatic ways (bilirubin, vitamin E, beta-carotene, albumin and uric acid). In addition, there are antioxidants that a person can take as supplements to inactivate RONS. These are: vitamin C and E; phenolic antioxidants like resveratrol, phenolic acids, flavonoids, oil lecithin, selenium, zinc and drugs like acetylcysteine.

Without control of the oxidative stress RONS can lead to cellular senescence and chronic inflammation. This leads to a vicious cycle where chronic oxidative stress and inflammation feed on each other leading to premature diseases.

Causation of several diseases

As we age, the body reduces the inborn antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase). Before we can understand how to live longer, we need to be aware what happens in various health scenarios as follows.

  • The lack of inborn antioxidant enzymes leads to vascular endothelial dysfunction, high blood pressure and premature hardening of the arteries. This can become a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.
  • Elevated blood sugar in the case of type 2 diabetes leads to increased sugar concentration of body cells and formation of free radicals.
  • Oxidants from cigarette smoke activate macrophages and epithelial cells to produce inflammatory cytokines. Continued smoking releases proteases in the process that break down connective tissue and cause emphysema and COPD.

There are more diseases

  • Chronic kidney disease comes from oxidative stress affecting the filter units of the kidney, called glomeruli. With a lack of blood supply to the kidneys secondary high blood pressure develops and endothelial dysfunction. It also leads to chronic inflammation.
  • In the brain oxidative stress leads to cognitive impairment and dementia.
  • Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are important ingredients for the development of cancer. RONS and cytokines release NF-kB, which activates cancer genes. RONS can also directly attack the DNA of cells and cause cancer through carcinogenesis.
  • Sarcopenia and frailty come from the action of RONS on the skeletal muscles. In old age there are less inborn antioxidants available. This leads to decreased muscle quantity or sarcopenia. Eventually frailty results with the risk of falls and fractures. 

Preventative measures for slowing the aging process

There is a number of steps that in combination help to slow the aging process.

  • A Mediterranean diet combined with a fasting mimicking diet or other calorie restricted diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Cognitive training
  • Vitamin D3 supplementation
  • Reducing your risk to develop vascular disease
  • Certain drugs turn on the longevity gene (metformin, rifampin)
  • Spiel warned that due to limited compliance and variable response these steps alone may not be enough to prevent age-related problems

How to live longer

It is important to recognize the importance of antioxidants to counteract the development of these diseases. As already mentioned, the following counter the effect of free radicals: vitamin C and E; phenolic antioxidants like resveratrol, phenolic acids, flavonoids, oil lecithin, selenium, zinc and drugs like acetylcysteine. Mesenchymal stem cells can also stop the action of free radicals. In addition, exosomes, which  are products of mesenchymal stem cells can do the same. Mitochondria, the power houses within the cells, create energy, but also release free radicals. In his clinic Dr. Spiel administers intravenous exosomes to counter the oxidative stress. Numerous studies linked mitochondrial dysfunction to various age-related diseases. There are markers in blood tests that the physician can order to analyze malfunctions in the body. Dr. Spiel showed 4 slides that contained a lot of medical information that is too technical. I omitted it for this review.

Intravenous infusions of exosomes

The important thing to remember is that epigenetics can be changed by exosome infusion and lifestyle changes mentioned above. Dr. Spiel said that generally he uses 15 ml of exosomes by intravenous infusion every 12 weeks for longevity and performance enhancement. This treats conditions like infertility, osteoporosis, osteopenia, heart, liver and kidney weaknesses. Here is the dosing for intravenous exosomes by weight:

20-50 lb: 5 ml; 50-90 lb: 10ml; more than 90 lb: 15 ml; more than 220 lb: 20 ml. Unfortunately, one exosome treatment costs between 500.00 and 922.00 USD, an amount that most people cannot afford.

Contraindication to the use of stem cells or exosome therapy

It is important to realize that a person who has cancer should not receive either mesenchymal stem cells or exosomes. Indeed, exosomes do not differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells, but stimulate cell division. For the same reason people with myeloproliferative disease (sickle cell anemia, bone marrow dysplasia) should also not receive exosomes. To clarify, other conditions where the physician will not order exosomes are primary pulmonary hypertension, acute bacterial infection or an immune-compromised state. In addition, macular degeneration with neovascularization is also a condition where the health professional does not administer exosomes.

Exosomes can Regenerate Your Stem Cells

Exosomes can Regenerate Your Stem Cells

Conclusion

Dr. Douglas J. Spiel gave a talk on how exosomes can regenerate your stem cells. Specifically, this was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. Dr. Spiel explained how disease processes age our organs. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) cause oxidative damage to our cells and contribute to the development of diseases. This involves the mitochondria in the cells as well. The good news is that a healthy lifestyle can counter these damaging processes to a certain extent. But it takes another step to re-establish the balance of our cells, exosome infusions. Exosomes are tiny particles that are shed by stem cells and that circulate in the blood. They can reenergize stem cells that are ailing to become functional again.

Expensive exosome infusions

He recommended an infusion with exosomes every 12 weeks for maintenance of good health and as a “fountain of youth”. Obviously, there are some limitations. As mentioned, it is not suitable for all patients, like cancer patients, patients with sickle cell anemia, acute bacterial infections or pulmonary hypertension. In addition, it is also not a treatment which many patients will seek out as the cost is prohibitive. One exosome treatment cost between 500.00 and 922.00 USD, an amount that most people cannot afford.

Mar
28
2020

Fasting Can Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

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

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

Fasting can improve the risk for cardiovascular disease

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

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

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

Alternate day fasting shows benefit in clinical human trial

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

Fasting mimicking diet

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

My own experience with the fasting mimicking diet

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

Use of FMD in high-risk patients

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

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

Fasting Can Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

Fasting Can Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

Conclusion

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

Nov
23
2019

Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

In an editorial of the October 2019 edition of LifeExtension William Faloon explained that omega-6 fatty acids compromise your health. He focused particularly on memory loss and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

After a review of the medical literature he noted that Americans are eating too many foods that are laden with omega-6 fatty acids. Part of it is due to food processing with the wrong oils ). But the other problem is that processed foods also are full of omega-6 fatty acids. The merchants like omega-6 fatty acids, because they prolong the shelf life of products. But recent evidence shows that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in our food can interfere with our memory and may even lead to dementia.

Evidence that omega-6 fatty acids are interfering with brain function

A recent publication analyzed 116 non-demented subjects aged 69 on average.

Blood tests were taken where 32 nutrients related to a Mediterranean diet were analyzed. In addition the researchers from the University of Illinois did functional MRI scans to assess higher brain function. The researchers also did cognitive tests to assess mental functioning.

  • The results of these experiments showed that higher lycopene levels had an association with better memory and higher executive function.
  • Subjects with higher carotenoids and trans lutein showed higher intelligence on testing.
  • B-vitamins that reduce homocysteine (vitamin B2, folate and vit. B12) and vitamin D showed an association with better executive functioning.
  • Two parts of memory testing showed that a proper balance of omega 6 to omega 3 ratio resulted in a better memory.
  • Higher omega-3 levels in the blood associated with higher overall intelligence and better executive function.

Impact of omega-6 on brain function

Researchers have proven that omega-3 fatty acids can help controlling inflammation in the body. This can prevent cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. However, our western food contains a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids, which causes inflammation in the body. It depends on our food choices, but it also depends on the preparation of the food. One chicken leg with skin contains about 1800 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. The process of deep-frying the same chicken leg increases the content to 4322mg of omega-6.

One deep fried KFC chicken breast with skin has 12,663 mg omega-6 fatty acids The reason is that a lot of the deep-frying oil is full of omega-6 fatty acids.

Cooking oils

Here is a run down of cooking oils. All of the cooking oils have a different mix of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid composition. Many also contain oleic acid, which is an omega-9 fatty acid.

Researchers have proven that omega-3 fatty acids can help control inflammation in the body. This can prevent cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

As it is obvious from the table in the second last link olive oil contains 71.27% oleic acid, 9.76% omega-6 and 0.76% omega-3. It is the content of the majority of oleic acid (omega-9), which makes olive oil such healthy oil. Only two table spoons of olive oil per day will prevent heart attacks and strokes because oleic acid lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and increases the good HDL cholesterol. Olive oil removes beta-amyloid plaques inside the brain, which means it prevents Alzheimer’s disease.

Recommendation of best cooking oil

Considering that olive oil has such powerful healing properties, I recommend that you cook and bake with olive oil. Also use olive oil as part of your salad dressing. On the other hand avoid these oils: corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil and safflower oil. They contain too much inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Our western food contains a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids, which causes inflammation in the body. It depends on our food choices what is in the food. But it also depends on the preparation of the food. One chicken leg contains about 1800 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. When it is deep fried with skin it contains 4322mg of omega-6.

One deep fried KFC chicken breast with skin: 12,663 mg Omega-6 fatty acids. One of the reasons is that a lot of the deep-frying oil is full of omega-6 fatty acids.

Math to calculate retained omega-6 from deep-frying

You notice that many cooking oils are high in omega-6. Soybean oil has 50.42% omega-6 in it. If you cook French fries or chicken in it and the food retains only 1 teaspoon of oil in it, that’s 5000 mg times 50.42%, which is 2521 mg of omega-6 added just from deep-frying your food.

Balancing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are mainly used for energy. But the problem is that in our western diet too many omega-6 fatty acids are in our food. Omega-6 fatty acids can be converted into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other hand. In the past a healthy ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 was 4:1 or less. The average American now eats food with 16-times the amount of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. This is an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 16:1.

KFC chicken breast example

In the example of a KFC chicken breast with skin 12,663 mg omega-6 fatty acids are consumed. To balance this with omega-3 fatty acids the person would have to consume 3166 mg omega-3 fatty acids. One serving of wild salmon provides 2000 mg of omega-3. I take 3600 mg of molecularly distilled fish oil every day as a supplement (2 capsules in the morning and 2 at night). Together with the wild salmon this is 5600 mg of omega-3. This would result in an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.26:1, which is considered to be well balanced. But generally people do not consume so much seafood and fish oil supplements to balance the omega-6 fatty acids with omega-3. It comes down to be selective with your food choices.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (dementia)

Since the mid 1980’s dementia cases have reduced by an average of 25%.

This is because people have become more conscious of healthier eating habits and supplements. More people take lycopene, a carotenoid supplement that helps prevent heart disease. Whatever helps the heart also helps the brain. Omega-3 supplements and consumption of seafood, especially wild salmon, is also useful. If people will reduce their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to 4:1 or less, which too can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Study to show that omega-3 fatty acids preserve the brain in older age

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

Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

Conclusion

Omega-6 fatty acids are abundantly present in junk food, deep fries, processed foods and polyunsaturated oils like corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil and safflower oil. Because food processors like the long shelf life of processed food made with these oils, people’s intake of omega-6 fatty acids has been climbing. Now the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio regarding the average American food consumption is about 16:1. It should be 4:1 or less. It is important that you learn what contains omega-6 fatty acids and that you start cutting down. You do need a certain amount of omega-6 fatty acids for cell energy, but most people do not get enough marine based omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon and other seafood provides omega-3 fatty acids.

Balancing omega-6 with omega-3

I have shown using an example how you can balance omega-6 and omega-3. Having the right ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 will also help you prevent dementia down the road. Consuming more olive oil can prevent heart disease and dementia as well. This contains oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), which lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol.

Oct
12
2019

Naps For Heart Health

In an article published online Sept. 9, 2019 a Swiss research group mentions naps for heart health. Specifically, they observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped for 5 minutes to an hour once or twice per week had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. When the researchers constructed survival curves, people who did not nap had the worst survival curves. On the other hand, the persons who napped once or twice per week had the best survival curves. The ones who napped 3 to 5 times per week or 6 to 7 times per week were in between the other survival curves.

Naps for heart health with adrenal gland fatigue

Adrenal gland fatigue is one of the clinical conditions where we know that naps rebuild energy. This is a hormone weakness where the adrenal glands can have reduced hormone production. The location of our adrenal glands is right above the kidneys. These hormone glands have a circadian rhythm. The highest amount of adrenal gland hormones production occurs in the morning and there is a gradual decline throughout the day. Our meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as well as any snacks lead to mini peaks of the adrenal gland hormone production. If we get enough sleep, there is no excessive stress in our lives and we do not smoke or abuse alcohol and drugs, most people will not know that they have adrenal glands as they are quietly working in the background. However, your adrenal glands may function in the lower end of normal bordering to adrenal gland fatigue.

Power naps during the day can normalize your adrenal gland hormones

When you take a power nap during the day, your adrenal gland hormone production normalizes. This makes you feel good and energetic. Patients who have adrenal gland fatigue feel more energy when they remove sugar and refined carbs from their diet. They also feel more energy when they have small snacks halfway through the morning and afternoon. Vitamin C as a supplement is useful as it stabilizes adrenal gland hormone production.

Discussion of the Swiss research regarding naps for heart health

There was no medical explanation given regarding why napping prolongs life. But it is entirely possible that those people who unknowingly have borderline adrenal gland fatigue are responding to building up their adrenal gland production. We know from the literature that stress kills. It would make sense that if the ACTH/adrenal gland hormone system is functioning better, mortality would be reduced. From people in Spain that value their “siesta” during the early afternoon we know that they are doing something right. Their life expectancy was an impressive 82.83 years in 2016 compared to 78.69 years for the US average. 

Naps For Heart Health

Naps For Heart Health

Conclusion

A Swiss study observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped during the day for 5 minutes to an hour had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. This resulted in less mortality of those who napped during the day. The researchers had no explanation for this observation. When I reviewed the literature regarding adrenal gland fatigue, I was impressed by the fact that many borderline patients get help from power naps and snacks of food between meals. Their ACTH/cortisol production can normalize this way and they survive better. At this point we do not know for sure why a nap reduces heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. 

More about adrenal gland fatigue here.

Jul
13
2019

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

new study has shown that you can save lives when you replace red meat and processed red meat. The replacement was with fish, poultry or protein from vegetables. The study appeared in the British Medical Journal on June 12, 2019. It involved 53,553 women nurses and 27,916 male doctors in the United States and ran from 1986 to 2010. Every 4 years comprehensive diet sheets were compiled on each of the participants. Death rates of all of the clinical trial participants were also recorded. The amount of red meat or processed red meat servings, which the participants consumed per day was recorded. One serving of red meat is 3.5 ounces or 100 grams.

Results of the BMJ study

People consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of red meat more per day over 8 years, had an increased mortality. It was increased by 9% over the following 8 years. Similarly, people consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of processed red meat over 8 years, were in trouble. They had an increased mortality of 13% over the next 8 years. The researchers also found that when people ate less red meat and processed red meat, things normalized. Their mortality returned to a normal rate. Also, when people replaced red meat with fish, poultry and vegetables, the mortality figures went down as well.

Red meat consumption in the literature

The researchers reviewed the literature regarding disease risk and mortality with meat consumption. In particular, the researcher had an interest in increased red meat consumption and consumption of processed red meat. Other investigators mentioned that there was an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and other cancers.  In addition, cardiovascular disease and increased overall mortality were up with meat consumption. The worst variety of processed foods are bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. Certain lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart heart failure are directly related to consumption of red meat or processed red meat products. Hypertension also has a link to red meat consumption. Components of red processed meats such as saturated fats, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, preservatives and sodium can cause colorectal cancer and at the same time cause cardiovascular disease.

More details about the study

There were 8426 deaths among the nurses branch of the study. 3138 nurses died from cancer, 1774 from cardiovascular disease, 939 from neurodegenerative diseases, 751 from respiratory diseases, and 1824 from other causes. In the same time period (24 years) there were 5593 deaths among the males of the Health Professionals follow-up study. 1754 died from cardiovascular disease, 1754 from cancer. There were 434 deaths from respiratory diseases, 375 from neurodegenerative diseases, and 1276 from other causes.

Red meat consumption in women has decreased by 31% in the past 24 years. Men have cut back their red meat consumption by 11% in the same time period.

One subgroup of patients decreased their red meat consumption and replaced it with a higher intake of nuts, poultry (without skin), fish, dairy, eggs, whole grains and vegetables over 8 years. They had a lower death rate than the controls over the next 10 years.

Discussion of the BMJ study

The authors mentioned that a Japanese study found no increased mortality among 51,683 Japanese men and women eating red meat, poultry, processed meat and liver. There were 20,466 men and 31,217 women, aged 40-79 years. The study lasted for almost 16 years. There were 2685 deaths due 537 ischemic heart diseases and 1209 strokes. The investigators had traced how much meat the participants ate. They did not find any change in mortality up to 100 grams per day of beef or other meat consumption. I will discuss this further below.

Hormones and antibiotics may be partially responsible for higher mortality in the US

Dr. Valter Longo, professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California and director of the USC Longevity Institute was not part of the study. He commented: “The lower or lack of association between red meat intake and mortality in other countries or areas of the world indicates that red meat may contribute to mortality in the United States by providing a high protein content but also because it may contain other factors that contribute to damage.“ He also questioned certain agricultural practices where hormones and antibiotics are in use in the raising of beef cattle in the US. This is not the case in Japan or Europe. He went on to say: “The reduced mortality, when red meat is replaced with fish, is consistent with this possibility since they contain generally similar levels of proteins”.

Use of antibiotics in cattle farming

The accepted practice of using antibiotics not only for treating infections, but also for accelerating growth in beef cattle has far-reaching ramifications.  The problem is that use of antibiotics in milk cows produces milk with antibiotic residues. In beef cattle antibiotic residue are also in the meat of these cows.

The question arose whether or not the use of antibiotics in cattle would possibly cause resistance to antibiotics in humans. This publication examines this question. It comes to the conclusion that the probability of resistant strains of bacteria in humans as a result of the feeding of antibiotics to cows in the US would be small. However, there is another aspect that only recently has gained attention. It is the change of the gut biome in humans as a result of antibiotic residues from the standard agricultural practices of raising cattle.

Change of the human gut biome

Meat eaters have raised TMAO blood levels

The human gut flora can change for various reasons. But once it has changed, it often stays in an altered state. It is a permanent change in bowel flora that can cause chemical reactions in the gut with the consumption of beef and eggs. Beef contains carnitine, which can lead to the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). Egg yolk contains choline, which also raises TMAO levels in the blood.

In the following study 113 healthy men and women consumed either a meat diet (beef), white meat diet or protein from non-meat sources. After one month the beef group had triple the amount of TMAO in their blood compared to the other two diets. Interestingly, when the diets were switched the TMAO levels normalized again in the former beefeaters when consuming white meat or protein from non-meat sources.

Changed gut flora causes raised TMAO levels

The use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the US beef industry is the standard practice for raising beef. But this has led to antibiotic residues that are detectable in the laboratory. When a person eats beef that is contaminated with antibiotic residues, the bowel flora loses its diversity of bacteria in the gut. This leads to an accumulation of other bacteria that produce TMAO in the presence of beef or egg yolk and can cause cardiovascular disease on the one hand and cancer on the other. This happens over time.

Discussion

The answer as to why US beef is causing colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease is directly related to the practice of using antibiotics as growth promoters. The use of antibiotics in the beef industry leads to a change in the gut flora in humans consuming this meat. Bacteria that can produce TMAO are now having the upper hand. In the US people produce more TMAO in response to beef consumption as the study mentioned has shown. The Japanese study cited above showed no sign of cardiovascular mortality when people consumed up to 100 gram (one serving) of meat per day over 16 years.

Antibiotics as growth promoters outlawed in Japan and Europe

The reason is that in Japan, as well as in Europe the use of antibiotics as growth promoters are illegal. When humans consume meat in Japan or Europe the original gut flora stays intact with no production of TMAO. Incidentally, the same is true for organic grass-fed meat in the US, which has no antibiotic residues in it. Recently there was a publication from Denmark that suggested to replace some of the beef consumption by low mercury fish.The authors of that study said that this will reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Conclusion

A new study in the British Medical Journal showed that an increase in red meat consumption of only ½ serving per day for 8 years caused an increased mortality of 9% over the following 8 years. With regard to processed red meat the mortality was even bigger, namely 13%. The researchers replaced some of the meat with white chicken meat or vegetables and the mortality normalized.

In contrast, a Japanese study showed that there was no increase in cardiovascular disease with the consumption of up to 100 grams of beef or other meat products over 16 years.

Using antibiotics as growth promoters illegal in Japan and Europe

I pointed out before that there is literature explaining why there is a discrepancy: the beef industry in the US feeds the animals antibiotics as growth promoters. This changes the bowel flora in humans who eat the beef. The changed bacterial strains in the gut use carnitine from beef and make trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This is a toxin that causes both cardiovascular disease and cancer. This explains why in the US beef is one of the culprits that causes heart attacks and colorectal cancer. In Japan this is not the case. Both Japan and Europe do not use antibiotics as growth promoters in the cattle industry as it is prohibited.

In the US it is likely safe to eat organic meats (beef, chicken) as these meats will not contain antibiotics. Due to the numerous additives in processed red meat, it is still a sensible idea to skip these products!

Jul
06
2019

Three Simple Steps Would Prevent Strokes And Heart Attacks

On June 10, 2019 researchers published a paper that stated that three simple steps would prevent strokes and heart attacks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the US about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is about in every 4 deaths. Here are a few facts. First, there is the simple observation that patients do not control their high blood pressure enough to avoid a heart attack or stroke. Secondly, patients with high blood pressure need to restrict their salt intake, or they will develop heart attacks or strokes. Finally, patients need to avoid exposure to artificial trans fatty acids as this leads to direct damage of the lining of the arteries. Given enough time, this will cause heart attacks and strokes.

Impact of these three health measures

The researchers went to global data to obtain mean blood pressure readings for large populations. They also obtained data for sodium consumption and trans fatty acid intake this way. Data from pharmacies crosschecked the amount of dispensing of anti hypertensive medication prescribed by physicians. The authors used most recent Meta analyses for relative risk reduction for each intervention.

Treating hypertension aggressively in up to 70% of cases with high blood pressure would delay 39.4 million deaths over 25 years. At the same time reduction of salt intake by 30% would prevent 40 million deaths over 25 years. And finally, eliminating trans fatty acid would delay another 14.8 million deaths. A total of 94.2 million deaths would be prevented globally when all the three interventions are applied simultaneously.

The pathophysiology behind heart attacks and strokes

We need to understand why patients develop heart attacks and strokes. In the following I will explain this.

Elevated blood pressure

When blood pressure is high, the heart has to work overtime to pump the blood through the blood vessels. At the same time the higher pressure leads to inflammation of the lining of the arteries and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are deposited underneath the lining of the arteries. This leads to blockage of the smaller arteries, which translates into heart attacks and strokes.

Consumption of too much salt

Consumption of too much salt, namely sodium intake of more than 2300 mg a per day, is considered high. It can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms (pouches of arteries that can rupture). Sodium intake of 1500mg or less is considered normal. When you exceed that number, the body will retain sodium and water, which increases the blood pressure. This accelerates the process of hardening of the arteries and eventually causes heart attacks or strokes.

Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats

Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats still make their way into the grocery shopping basket. They are present in baked goods, snacks like chips, creamer and margarines. Think of cakes and cookies, crackers, piecrust, potato chips, corn chips and microwave pop corn. Deep fried food is also full of trans fats (french fries, doughnuts, fried chicken). Trans fats can make their way into frozen pizza crusts, non-dairy coffee cream, canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls. Above all do not buy any form of margarine. Hydrogenated fatty acids affect the arteries directly by increasing the harmful LDL cholesterol and decreasing the protective HDL cholesterol. This accelerates hardening of the arteries, which in turn causes heart attacks and strokes. 

Discussion of “three simple steps would prevent strokes and heart attacks”

The positive impact that this new study could have on the survival of patients is phenomenal. Over 25 years almost 100 million lives would be saved from heart attacks and strokes, which would be an enormous achievement. We are talking about 25 cities of 4 million people each saved around the planet. The researchers say that this is doable, because there are pockets globally where excellent care has already been given to patients, they have followed them through 25 years or more and their mortality was significantly reduced. 

My own experience in general practice

In my own medical practice from 1978 to 1995 I introduced a recall for patients with high blood pressure to reduce their mortality. They came in every 3 months for a blood pressure check. On that occasion I reviewed their antihypertensive medicine and asked whether they took their blood pressure with their own blood pressure monitor at home. I stressed that home monitoring blood pressure would be the latest development and they should do it. Surprisingly, the majority of patients were compliant. Among the recall patients the heart attack and stroke rates were very low.

Adding low salt (less than 1500 mg of sodium per day) and cutting out all trans fats introduces a new dimension into heart attack and stroke prevention. As explained above all of this has a direct bearing on reducing hardening of the arteries. This in turn prevents deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

Three Simple Steps Would Prevent Strokes And Heart Attacks

Three Simple Steps Would Prevent Strokes And Heart Attacks

Conclusion

The paper I reviewed here has investigated the effects that three simple measures will have on the mortality of the world population over 25 years. Treating up to 70% of patients with high blood pressure aggressively would delay 39.4 million deaths over 25 years. At the same time reduction of salt intake by 30% would prevent 40 million deaths over 25 years. And finally, eliminating trans fatty acid would delay another 14.8 million deaths. Physicians could prevent a total of 94.2 million deaths globally when they encourage their patients to apply all the three interventions simultaneously.We know this works by preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Let’s hope that this will not only be talk, but that physicians will pass on this news to their patients and that patients will follow the advice.

Jun
22
2019

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

The British Medical Journal published two papers that showed that ultraprocessed food kills. The first paper showed that highly processed food causes heart attacks and strokes. Another paper in the same journal showed that mortality is significantly increased when people consume highly processed food. Both papers were reviewed by CNN.

Food categories

Food questionnaires were administered over 24 hours every 2 years from every participant using the NOVA classification system.

There were 4 categories.

  • Category 1 consisted of “unprocessed or minimally processed” food. This included legumes, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, grains and natural juice.
  • Next was category 2 of “processed ingredients”. This included salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter and lard.
  • Category 3 consisted of “processed foods“. This included breads, cheeses, beer, wine, and cured traditional ham and bacon.
  • Finally, category 4 consisted of “ultraprocessed foods”. This included sausages, flan, chorizo, mayonnaise, pizza, cookies, potato chips, chocolates candies, artificially sweetened beverages including whisky, gin and rum.

Study on cardiovascular risk

A study from France followed more than 105,000 people for 5.2 years. The participants filled out food questionnaires every 6 months. The foods consumed were classified according to the NOVA categories. The results showed that the men’s diet consisted to 17.6% of heavily processed foods while the diet of women consisted of 17.3% heavily processed food. Each 10% increment of highly processed food (called “ultraprocessed” food) had an association with 12% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, 13% more heart attacks and 11% more strokes. The researchers could also show that a decrease in ultraprocessed food was leading to less percentage of these diseases.

Mortality risk when consuming ultraprocessed food

A similar study involving close to 20,000 participants in Spain that had a long observation time of 15 years (from 1999 to 2014). The 4 food categories were as mentioned above.

A person eating more than 4 ultraprocessed items per day or more had a 62% increase of death rate in comparison to those who ate processed food less frequently. Each additional ultraprocessed food item added another 18% of mortality risk. Maira Bes-Rastrollo, professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at Universidad de Navarra, Medical School said: “These results are in agreement with other recent results based on populations in France and the United States. If all the different study results align, despite the separate research groups using dissimilar populations, diverse age ranges and different methodologies, then this lends support to a possible cause-effect relationship between ultraprocessed foods and poor health.”

Discussion

You may remember that your grandparents reminded you not to eat “junk food”. Often junk food is consisting of ultraprocessed foods. Both of these independent studies from France and from Spain have shown that there is a significant risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with the consumption of ultraprocessed foods. In addition, there is also a significant mortality risk when you consume ultraprocessed food. The key is to learn from this and cut down on processed foods; instead eat foods that are less processed and are wholesome for you. Eat vegetables, fruit, nuts and stay away from the grocery store’s shelves with processed foods.

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

Conclusion

What your grandparents used to tell you about processed foods is now available as two separate publications from the British Medical Journal. The less processed food you consume, the healthier your food intake is. You will enjoy better health. This is the simple message. Avoiding ultraprocessed food will help you to avoid heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. In addition you will have a longer life expectancy. It is up to us to translate these findings into reality for ourselves.