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.

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Apr
11
2020

Our Immune System Needs Vitamin D3

When we age, our resistance to infections weakens, but this may be because our immune system needs more vitamin D3. I have reviewed the super powers of vitamin D3 before in 2014. In the past it was thought that the human body would need only 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day to cure rickets. And this was the daily recommendation for vitamin D3 for several decades. Gradually it became known that for cancer prevention, infection prevention, cardiovascular illness prevention and for diabetes prevention much higher doses of vitamin D3 were needed. As this link points out, almost 50% of the world population is deficient in vitamin D. This is due to a lack of exposure to sunlight and due to inadequate supplementation with vitamin D3.

25-hydroxy vitamin D level

For several years now the 25-hydroxy vitamin D level in serum is accepted as the best tool to assess the vitamin D status of a person.  In the following you find data from this link.

Various 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels

Vitamin D deficiency (leading to rickets in infants or osteomalacia in adults): less than 12 ng/mL (less than 30 nmol/L)

 Inadequate vitamin D levels in healthy individuals (inadequate for bone or general health): 12 ng/mL to less than 20 ng/mL (30 to less than 50 nmol/L)

 Considered adequate for bone and overall health: 20 or more ng/mL (50 or more nmol/L)

 “Emerging evidence links potential adverse effects to such high levels”: >50 ng/mL(particularly >60 ng/mL); or >125 (particularly >150 nmol/L)

Vitamin D requirement in diseases other than rickets

We see from this that in terms of rickets there is a clear dose-response curve, where low vitamin D serum levels give a child rickets and higher levels prevent rickets. This is historically how vitamin D was detected as a vitamin. In the meantime, researchers have found vitamin receptors on many cells, so that endocrinologists consider vitamin D3 a hormone and signalling molecule.

The above link said that a vitamin D level of 20 to 50 ng/mL is normal. This link says that 20 and 40 ng/mL would be normal. But it adds that others recommend a level between 30 and 50 ng/mL.

Mortality of ICU patients is higher when vitamin D is low

A study from 2015 examined the mortality of 135 ICU patients. The researchers correlated Vitamin D blood levels with mortality rates of the patients. When vitamin D levels were below 12 ng/mL, there was a mortality rate of 32.2%. Patients with higher levels of vitamin D had a mortality rate of 13.2%. The authors concluded that low vitamin D blood levels were an independent risk factor for mortality. Patients less than 12 ng/ml had a 2.4-fold higher risk of dying than patients with normal vitamin D levels.

Stroke patients with low vitamin D worse off

Studies have shown that patients with the lowest level of vitamin D have the poorest functional outcomes following a stroke. When the vitamin D level was below 30 ng/mL the area of dead brain tissue was about two times larger than in those who had adequate vitamin D levels. Moreover, for every 10 ng/mL decrease in vitamin D levels the odds of a healthy recovery 3 months after the stroke fell by about half. This was independent of age and the initial stroke severity.

Seasonal vitamin D3 deficiency from January through April contributes to influenza

In a publication of 2006 Dr. John Cannell and co-workers have reviewed why influenza has seasonal outbreaks. They found that the innate immune system was very dependent on vitamin D3. Those who did not get enough sunlight in the northern hemisphere during January, February, March and April have an average 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of only 15 to 17 ng/mL. In contrast, from July to September the same volunteers had vitamin D levels of 24 to 29 ng/mL. The authors stressed that this was the reason why in the late winter/early spring flu seasons come and go every year while in summer they disappear.

Vitamin D requirements for immune system is 2000 IU or more per day

Vitamin D is essential for the functioning of the innate and adaptive immune system. They also had a reason why children are not as affected by influenza viruses as adults are: “The innate immunity of the aged declined over the last 20 years due to medical and governmental warnings to avoid the sun. While the young usually ignore such advice, the elderly often follow it”. Had the older patients taken higher doses of vitamin D3 every day their immunity would have been as strong as the children’s immunity. The publication cites another publication that found that 2000 IU per day or more will strengthen the immune system. Note that this is a higher dose than for rickets that responds to only 400 IU of vitamin D3.

Patients with many diseases lack vitamin D, but improve with vitamin D3

Many diseases showed an association with an underlying lack of vitamin D. When doctors examine patients’ blood who have arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, influenza and others, their 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is usually below 15 ng/mL. This means that these patients have a very weak immune system. Vitamin D3 can restore their immune system and also restore more than 100 polypeptides that contribute to the healing process.

Here is evidence from US researchers that states that higher doses of vitamin D3 will mitigate the course of influenza and of Covid-19 coronavirus. The researchers outlined vitamin D has 3 effects:

  1. Maintaining tight epithelial junctions making it more difficult for the Covid-19 coronavirus to penetrate.
  2. “Killing enveloped viruses through induction of cathelicidin and defensins.” These powerful antiviral polypeptides can kill viruses that have invaded the blood stream within 1 to 2 days.
  3. “…And reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines by the innate immune system, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm leading to pneumonia.” It is people who get the viral pneumonia that are at a high risk of being killed. By bringing the blood level up to the higher range of normal, between 50 and 80 ng/mL, patients that have encountered Covid-19 coronavirus are more likely to survive.

Higher doses of vitamin D3 for various diseases

Dr. Norman Shealy has summarized here what Dr. Joe Prendergast, an endocrinologist and diabetologist did for various patients. This link also contains many references regarding the use of high doses of vitamin D3.

During 30 years of clinical practice Dr. Prendergast treated some conditions where the vitamin D level was extremely low and where patients had a profound weakness of the immune system.

He treated these patients with 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for various times. The diseases that responded to vitamin D3 therapy follow.

Conditions responding to vitamin D3 therapy

  • Reversal of advanced coronary disease
  • Reversal of advanced lung disease, avoiding a lung transplant!
  • Cure of multiple sclerosis
  • Cure of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Regression of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Improvement in allergies
  • Control of many cancers including prostate, breast, colon, brain tumors, leukemia, myeloma, etc.
  • Reversal of osteoporosis
  • Prevention of influenza
  • Cure of depression and many other mental disorders
  • Hashimoto’s hyperthyroidism

No toxicity with higher doses of vitamin D3

LinkedIn summarizes Dr. Prendergast’s career as follows:

“J. Joseph Prendergast has been a practicing physician for over 30 years. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine as well as Endocrinology and Metabolism. A graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan he completed a fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Henry Ford Hospital Detroit, MI and his residency at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Prendergast has published over 40 medical articles in well-known publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine and Diabetes Care.”

Do not take calcium supplements when on higher doses of vitamin D3

Dr. Prendergast had no complications in patients with these high doses of vitamin D3, but he stressed that the patient is instructed not to take calcium supplements to prevent high calcium levels. He checks vitamin D blood levels and aims at levels of 80 to 150 ng/mL.

The dosage suggested on this audiotape is 50,000 IU per day for one week, then a maintenance dose of 50,000 IU once per week (=7143 IU per day). But it is also important to change your nutrition to a well-balanced diet. He stated that there is no toxicity with this treatment schedule as long as you do not take additional calcium supplements. On the other hand, dairy products are OK to take.

Our Immune System Needs Vitamin D3

Our Immune System Needs Vitamin D3

Conclusion

Many patients with diseases like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, influenza, multiple sclerosis, allergies and other disease listed above have very low vitamin D blood levels. Vitamin D is necessary to produce more than 100 polypeptides. The body requires these for normal cell function. Rickets was first cured by supplements of only 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day. In the meantime, it is recognized that a vitamin D level of less than 15 ng/mL constitutes a vitamin D deficiency. To cure other diseases requires much higher vitamin D levels in the blood, in the order of 50 to 80 ng/mL.

Dr. Prendergast uses higher vitamin D levels with better results

Dr. Prendergast states that patients with pre-existing diseases have to take much higher levels of vitamin D3. This rebalances their metabolism and cell function. In time this will gradually cure their disease. He suggests 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for 7 days. This is then followed by 50,000 IU per week (7143 IU per day) for maintenance. He said that this will lead to a vitamin D level of between 80 and 150 ng/mL. In 30 years of practice he has not seen a single case of vitamin D3 toxicity, provided the patient refrains from taking calcium supplements. This is the exact opposite of what the Mayo Clinic or Harvard University websites say. It also shows that there are always some pioneering forces in the generally ultra-conservative medical society.

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Mar
14
2020

Telomeres are Important

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

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

Lifespan versus health-span

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

Telomeres and their function in aging

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

Shortening of telomere length with age

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

Age changes telomere length

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

Telomeres and shortened lifespan

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

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

Chronic diseases associated with shortened telomeres

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

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

Telomeres in cardiovascular disease

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

Telomere length enhancers

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

Therapeutic rationale for telomere lengthening in CAD and AD

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

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

Telomeres are Important

Telomeres are Important

Conclusion

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

Additional factors elongating telomeres

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

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Aug
10
2019

Fasting Mimicking Diet For 5 Days Every Month

In December 2017 I heard Dr. Longo speak at a medical conference in Las Vegas. He suggested the use of the fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month. I am getting into the age group where a little help from nature would not harm (I am 74 years old). I started immediately in December 2017 to do a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) for 5 days.

Effects of fasting mimicking diet

In the beginning you just notice that you are not as hungry as you thought you would be, because you do take in three mini meals of about 200 calories each, which curbs your appetite. It is also important to consume enough liquids. Please note: liquids! Not liquor! Wine, beer or any alcoholic drinks are not part of the diet. You can drink water, but, this may get boring, and you can take water with lemon, herbal teas, black tea and coffee, as long as you stay away from sugar-laced drinks.

How the FMD works

Your total calorie intake will amount to no more than 600 calories per day for the 5 days where you do the fasting mimicking diet. Your body mass index (BMI) decreases between 0.1 and 0.4 per day to a total of 0.5 to 0.9 for the 5 days. This does not seem much, but if it is accumulating every month, a person who is obese now could have a normal weight within one year. The first day of this fast may present some challenges. I found that in the afternoon I felt hungry. What helped was a hot drink( tea, coffee, clear broth). Day two was better, and from day three it has become a routine. There are  no ferocious hunger pangs, no headaches or feelings of weakness or tiredness. I am always surprised that my energy level is improving when I do the fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.Dr. Longo suggests not to exercise during the fast. It is obvious that this time is not suitable for half- marathons or taxing hikes, but I found that thirty minutes of aerobics and thirty minutes of weight training felt good. Listen to your body! If you feel lightheaded at any time, stop! The emphasis is on “moderate”.

Dr. Longo noticed the following findings in a mouse model as well as on humans. I summarized this before in a previous blog:

Specific results when on the fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month

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

Meal samples of fasting mimicking diet

Dr. Longo developed a kit containing all pre-packaged foods for 5 days under the name “ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet”. The package is not larger than a shoebox, and the diet is plant-based, has some nutrition bars, drinks as well as freeze-dried soups. You can argue about the nutritional value, as it has an average rating of 3.5 out of 5. It also comes in at a hefty price of 300.00 USD. In reality it is a matter of calorie-math to consume very little food. There are plenty of tables available on the Internet that tell you the nutritional value of foods, and it does not take much effort to compose your own menu.

Here is a fairly typical list of foods

Breakfast: A typical breakfast consists of 2 slices of rye crisp bread (Wasa or Ryvita) with a bit of almond butter on it, a cup of coffee and either black or with stevia and milk.

Lunch: 8 oz. of tomato soup and coffee or tea.

Dinner: A tossed salad with organic bell peppers, ½ tomato, and two thin slices of avocado, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Here is an alternative meal sample:

Breakfast: Eat a nutrition bar that is based on nuts. It should not be more than 250 calories. Alternatively make your own! Have tea or coffee.

Lunch: 8 oz. of homemade vegetable soup without the addition of pasta or beans.

Dinner: Miso soup and 4 rice crackers, alternatively a small tossed salad with olive oil and vinegar.

Results of fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month

Here are typical results that I found over several months. I am using body composition scales every day to measure my weight, body fat percentage, visceral fat percentage, muscle percentage, calories burnt and the BMI.

One month the BMI went from 21.9 to 21.1 during a 5-day FMD. Another month the BMI experienced a reduction from 21.7 to 21. 2. Here is a list of the some of the 5-day losses of my BMI on a couple of occasions: 0.8, 0.4, 0.9, 0.7, 0.6, 0.5, 0.7 and so on.

It is important that you are not going on an eating binge after those five days. The FMD conditioned your body to be content with very small amounts of food. Enjoy your food, but stick to moderate portions.

Discussion of fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month

An intermittent fasting mimicking diet was shown to have a diversified positive health effect in both animal models and humans. For instance, inflammatory bowel disease improves on FMD by improving the bowel microbiota and by promoting the intestinal regeneration.

Intermittent fasting, as this article shows, can prevent age-associated diseases.

This article suggests that T-killer cells that attack cancers are promoted by the intermittent fasting mimicking diet.

A FMD in type 1 diabetic patients has been shown to restore insulin generation in islets of the pancreas of these patients. The result was an improvement of their type 1 diabetes.

More research data on fasting mimicking diet

A clinical trial with 100 subjects was undertaken by Dr. Longo and his research team. He measured markers after 3 cycles of a fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month. They found that the FMD reduced aging markers, improved diabetes and reduced susceptibility for cancer and cardiovascular disease. In another publication Dr. Longo and co-authors describe how autoimmune diseases can be improved by the use the fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Another publication by Dr. Longo describes that “age-related disorders including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke” can be prevented by fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Even cancer prevention and cancer treatment can be helped by the fasting mimicking diet.  The FMD makes chemotherapy more tolerable.

Fasting Mimicking Diet For 5 Days Every Month

Fasting Mimicking Diet For 5 Days Every Month

Conclusion

I have shown that with the fasting mimicking diet (FMD) done for 5 days in every month you can lower your body mass index (BMI) by 0.4 to 0.9 units. On the long-term this helps you to keep your BMI stable and in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Dr. Longo has researched the effect of the FMD in both mice and humans. He found that you age better with less age-related diseases. In addition, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases like MS, rheumatoid arthritis and type-1 diabetes improve. Cancer patients who need chemotherapy tolerate it better. Their immune system also produces more killer T cells that destroy cancer cells. The FMD prevents heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Dr. Longo also has shown that there is stimulation of stem cell production and telomeres are increasing in length. Telomeres are important for longevity, which allows you to age healthier with less disease.

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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.

May
26
2019

The Foods That Are Killing Us

There is an article in a CNN report talking about the foods that are killing us. This review is based on an article in the Lancet. The Lancet study was based on a global review of eating habits in 195 countries. The question in the study was which of 15 food items caused the diseases that killed people. The answer was surprising. There are either omissions or unhealthy components of foods that kill us. Here is a list of 12 food groups that are problematical.

A dozen foods that were found to be problematical in the global review

  • Diet high in sodium (4 grams per day, which is 86% above the optimal level)
  • Low intake of whole grains (only 23% of optimal levels)
  • Low fruit intake
  • Diet high in trans fatty acids
  • Low omega-3 fatty acid diet (due to low intake of sea food)
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Diet low in fiber
  • High intake of sugar beverages or sugary foods (49 grams of sugar per day)
  • Processed meat intake too high (4 grams per day, 90% more than optimal)
  • Red meat consumption too high (27 grams per day, 18% higher than optimal)
  • Nut and seed intake too low (only consuming 12% of desired amount)
  • Diet low in milk (16% of desired amount)

Each of these components or several of them in combination create deficiencies in us or overburden us to the point where we can get sick and disabled.

Different countries have different eating habits

Globally there were 11 million deaths found in 2017 and 255 million years of disability because of various dietary inadequacies.

Here is the lineup of the leading causes of death:

  • cardiovascular disease with 10 million deaths and 207 million years of disability.
  • Cancers caused 913,090 deaths and 20 million years of disability.
  • Type 2 diabetes caused 338,714 deaths and 24 million years of disability.

This was broken down into statistics for each of the contributory countries. Here I am only citing some pertinent data that shows the importance of balanced meals for a healthy life expectancy.

Different death rates in various countries

There were big differences in terms of cardiovascular disease deaths according to various regions. Central Asia had the highest death rate with 613 deaths per 100,000 people per year. In contrast the high-income Asia Pacific group had only a cardiovascular death rate of 68 per 100,000 people per year.

Cancer deaths were highest in East Asia with 41 deaths per 100,000 people. The lowest cancer rate was found in North Africa and the Middle East with 9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Among the 20 most populous countries Egypt had the highest diet-related deaths, namely 552 deaths per 100,000 people. On the other hand Japan had the lowest of all diet related deaths with 97 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Some highlights how unhealthy foods kill us

Globally people only eat 12% of the desirable amount of nuts and seeds. They only drink 13% of what they should consume in terms of milk. People worldwide eat 23% of the desirable amount of whole grains.

Nuts and seeds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower your risk of getting heart attacks and strokes.

Milk is a good source of calcium, protein, minerals and vitamins. However, milk, yogurt or cheese should be consumed as low fat varieties. Alternatively people who do not consume milk should look for protein carriers such as soy milk or pea milk.

If you eat nuts and vegetables you can largely compensate for low milk consumption. If you don’t get enough whole grains, you are missing a whole lot of nutrients. This makes you more vulnerable of getting cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

Other unhealthy foods can kill us

The WHO has labelled red meat and processed meat as being carcinogenic

Studies clearly showed a higher than normal rate of colorectal cancer in those who consumed larger amounts of red meat and/or sausages.

Sugar overconsumption

Sugar overconsumption leads to a variety of conditions. Weight gain with the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes are common when you eat too much sugar. But even cancer like colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer is more common in people who overindulge in sugar or sugary drinks. Sugar consumption raises your triglyceride and LDL level. This will eventually lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes.

Gout develops with purine containing foods

Gout can be caused by consuming a lot of red meat combined with copious amounts of beer. This is how royalty in the Middle Ages suffered from gout attacks. Gout had the nickname of “Disease of the affluent.” Both beer and red meat contain a lot of purines, which the kidneys cannot handle. The uric acid crystals that precipitate around joints cause excruciating pains.

 What the global health study showed

Researchers of the global health study stated that improving the diet habits could potentially eliminate 1 in 5 deaths globally. Dietary risks for major diseases like heart attacks, strokes and cancer are independent from sex, age and socioeconomic status.

Three dietary factors stood out: too much salt, too little fruit and too little whole grain. These three items were responsible for 50% of diet-related deaths and 66% of “disability-adjusted life years”. The authors used this expression to describe how years of disability had their root in diet deficits (e.g. too little fruit) or overdoses of unhealthy food components (e.g. salt).

The leading dietary risk factors are too much salt, low whole grain, low fruit consumption, low vegetable intake and low omega-3 fatty acid consumption. On top of that come the previously established risks due to sugar overconsumption, excessive fat intake and consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Discussion of the meaning of these results

Deaths from heart attacks and strokes

We know for some time that high sugar and high starchy food intake cause elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL cholesterol. This leads to hardening of the arteries and eventually to strokes and heart attacks.

High sodium intake

Sodium intake of more than 2300 mg per day is considered high and can cause high blood pressure. heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms.

Eating not enough fruit

If you eat too little fruit, your system does not get enough vitamin C and other vitamins. Heart disease, cancer and anemia could develop from that.

Eating not enough vegetables

People who do not eat enough vegetables do not have enough antioxidants that protect them from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that attack cells and DNA. Mutated cells can cause cancer. If you eat too little vegetables, you are at a higher risk of getting cancer. But there is another aspect of vegetables: phytonutrients protect from hardening of the arteries and blockages of heart and brain vessels. When someone does not eat enough vegetables, the risk for heart attacks and strokes is higher. Eating vegetables also protects you from diabetes and keeps the blood sugar more stable.

Not eating enough whole grain

Whole grain was identified as missing in a lot of people’s diet. When you incorporate whole grains into your food, you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

There are vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and lignans in whole grain. Other nutrients are beta-glucan, several phytochemicals, phytosterols, phytin, and sphingolipids. All of these are necessary to maintain good health.

Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for healthy skin, brain development (neurodevelopment of children) and prevention of heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cancer because of their anti-inflammatory action and inhibition of cell growth factors. In one study rectal cancer showed a 21% reduction comparing the highest omega-3 fatty acid intake to the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Colon cancer showed no effect to omega-3 consumption, but breast cancer showed a reduction with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Researchers showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can slow down dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Protein deposits called amyloids were found less in the brain of patients with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation; in addition the brain volume was preserved more with the omega-3 supplement. Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption also has a detrimental effect on macular degeneration of the eyes and on joint pains of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The Foods That Are Killing Us

The Foods That Are Killing Us

Conclusion

I have reviewed a global health study that described various risks that led to deaths from different diseases. It was noticeable that death and disability rates varied significantly according to different countries. The authors also looked into food habits and could pinpoint certain food deficiencies that caused diseases that prematurely disabled or killed people. I have described the various one-sided food habits that led to specific diseases.

What we should all learn from this complicated study is that we all can strive to eat more balanced meals. You want to eat a low sodium diet, eat enough fruit and vegetables, to which you add some nuts. Eat enough whole grains and add omega-3 fatty acids. This way the risk of getting cancer, cardiovascular diseases or other problems can be significantly reduced.

Apr
06
2019

Healthier After Age 60

Unhealthy lifestyles have staying power, so what can we do be healthier after age 60? A recent CNN article describes 10 ways how to adopt a healthier lifestyle when you get close to retirement.

The thinking is that 5 years before your retirement at 65 you should perhaps adopt a healthier lifestyle.

2017 study by Dr. King regarding lifestyles before and after retirement

Dr. Dana King was the author of a 2017 study where lifestyles before and after retirement were compared.

Seven factors were examined, namely cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. Retirees were more likely to have poorly controlled blood pressures compared to non-retirees. 23.9% of retirees had uncontrolled blood pressure versus 15.1% of non-retirees. This difference was statistically significant. There was another significant difference with regard to physical activity. Retirees were 1.85-fold more active than non-retirees. But sadly, the other 5 of the 7 points did not significantly improve. There were no differences in healthy weight, smoking rates, healthy diet, glucose levels or cholesterol control.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your diet

Adopt a Mediterranean diet. This is an anti-inflammatory diet that prevents hardening of the arteries. It lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and also triglycerides. It is also recommended to consume at least 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day. When you cook only with olive oil and use only olive oil and Balsamic vinegar for salads, it is relatively easy to reach or surpass the recommended 2 daily tablespoons of olive oil.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your exercise status

You have more time when you retire. The easiest to get into a routine regarding regular exercise is to get a membership in a gym. In the beginning you may want to see a trainer to show you some routine exercises on weight machines. You start the program off with 30 minutes on the treadmill. Before long you get used to the exercise routine and you feel stronger. But your system also produces much more of the protective HDL cholesterol, which is sensitive to regular exercise. If you have been physically inactive, get some input from your health care provider.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your weight

It is not exercise, but a healthy diet, which controls your weight. Having adopted a Mediterranean diet is a big first step in that direction. But it is also important to cut out sugar and starchy foods (potatoes, rice, bread, muffins, pasta etc.). This will reduce your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. On the long term you prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your smoking status

It is old knowledge that smoking cuts down on life expectancy. Better quit smoking now than later. It prevents heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and many other cancers.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your blood pressure

Regular exercise, weight loss and quitting to smoke will all lower your blood pressure. Some people though continue to have high blood pressure. It is important to seek medical advice regarding this. People with persistent elevated blood pressure need medication to have this controlled in order to avoid getting a hemorrhagic stroke.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your glucose levels

The diet I described will help you to control your blood sugars. Your doctor can order a hemoglobin A1C, which summarizes your average blood sugars over the past 3 months. Controlling your blood sugar is important to prevent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes reduces your life expectancy significantly. The risks are heart attacks, strokes, blindness, leg amputations, kidney damage and cancers.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your cholesterol

When I discussed a healthy diet, I indicted that it lowers the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This reduces the risk of hardening of the arteries. A regular exercise program increases the protective HDL cholesterol, which reinforces the protection from heart attacks and strokes.

Healthier After Age 60

Healthier After Age 60

Conclusion

Whether we retire or not, we should all strife to achieve these 7 changes of lifestyle that Dr. Dana King has discussed. They were cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. Each of these factors is important on its own. But when you tackle all of them simultaneously, there is a potentiation of these factors that allows you to get super-healthy. That’s what you want for your life after age 60. It is not too late to start! You want to be healthier after age 60!

Oct
13
2018

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

The distribution of obesity in women and men is different, when they gain weight on a low fat/high carb diet. The distribution of fat follows a pear shape in women due to fat accumulated around the hips. In males excessive fat accumulates around the waist, which gives them an apple shape appearance.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) have done experiments using a mouse model. They wanted to see what changes take place when obesity develops. Djurdjica Coss was the lead researcher of the study from the UCR School of Medicine.

The reason why this study was thought to be necessary

Many men and women have relatively normal weights until their mid 50’s. But when women approach menopause, they tend to accumulate fat in the thigh areas (pear-shape obesity). When their weight continues to rise, they also accumulate weight in the abdominal area. It is general knowledge that the fat in the abdominal region is metabolically more active producing inflammatory kinins.

Men above the age of 50 or 60 are also accumulating fat, but typically in the abdominal area right away. The name for this is apple-shape obesity. Unfortunately this is the fat we just discussed, metabolically active with inflammatory kinins. It is known to be the cause for heart attacks and strokes as it accelerates hardening of the arteries in the whole body. Dr. Coss found in doing experiments on mice that estrogen plays a major role in the development of obesity as discussed below.

The mouse experiments to study the development of obesity

The research team of Dr. Coss compared a group of mice that had their ovaries taken out. The ovaries in females are the main source of estrogens. They fed them a high-fat diet comparing their weight gain to that of male controls on the same diet. Obesity leads to a change in metabolism, called metabolic syndrome. This condition has an association with the production of inflammatory substances originating from the abdominal fat accumulation. Both male and female mice underwent a series of blood tests. They were also physically inspected. The female mice had the pear-type accumulation of fat, the males an apple-type fat accumulation.

More details about what obesity did to the experimental mice

In males there was a reduction of sperm count in the obese group as well as low muscle strength. In addition they were low in energy, had a lack of libido and their testosterone levels were low. The sperm number and the testosterone level had fallen to 50% of what they were when their weight was normal. This is what happens in human obese males as well. The inflammatory substances, that the abdominal fat creates, broke down the blood/brain barrier, and this affected the brain.

Among the female mice there was no neuroinflammation in the brain. There was no change in their hormones, which was quite a remarkable finding. This was a surprise and points out that beside estrogens there are other mechanisms to protect females from the effects of obesity.

Brain inflammation from obesity

Dr. Cross explained that in male mice the fat accumulation was of the apple-type. Female mice had the pear type fat accumulation. The fatty tissue in females did not release inflammatory kinins. On the other hand, the abdominal fat in the males released inflammatory kinins. These attracted macrophages, which is a cell type of the immune system. Activated macrophages now became aggressive and broke down the blood/brain barrier. This resulted in neuroinflammation of the brain. The brain normally is an immune protected site because of the blood/brain barrier. When this breaks down because of the action of inflammatory kinins from abdominal fat, the brain starts to develop memory loss like in Alzheimer’s disease.

Women before and after menopause

In females who still produce enough estrogen, fat from the pear type obesity distribution does not produce inflammatory kinins. This explains the relative protection of premenstrual women from heart attacks and neuroinflammation. But menopausal women start accumulating fat around the abdomen as well. At that point they can also develop inflammatory kinins and neuroinflammation. This is why the heart attack and stroke rate increases in postmenopausal women with apple-shape obesity.

Other studies supporting the effects of obesity in men and women 

Inflammatory substances in obese people affecting their brain

This publication shows that in a group of 141 neurologically healthy obese individuals the anti-inflammatory defense in the brain was weakened. Subsequently, various brain conditions developed because of the inflammatory substances affecting the brain.

How obesity affects your body functions

Obesity affects the body in various ways. It is particularly the apple type obesity that causes inflammatory substances circulating in the blood. A multitude of conditions can develop from this.

  • The cholesterol shows an increase of the bad LDL cholesterol and a reduction of the good HDL cholesterol.
  • The blood pressure rises. Without treatment high blood pressure can cause strokes.
  • Type-2 diabetes often develops because the insulin production cannot keep up with the demand. A second factor is a loss of insulin receptor sensitivity. As a result the insulin receptors of the body cells become resistant to insulin.
  • The gallbladder often develops stones, which may require gallbladder surgery.
  • Some cancers are increasing in frequency: endometrial cancer, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver cancer.
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are more common, in part because of the neuro-inflammatory processes that I mentioned before.
  • Body pain and problems with physical functioning: obese people have more back pains, hip and knee pains from the extra weight. Slim people are less likely to have these problems. Obese people require more hip and knee replacement surgeries for end-stage arthritis than slim people.

Difference of metabolism in pear-shape versus apple-shape obesity

Back to the pear versus apple distribution of fatty tissue in obesity. diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes as the apple type obesity. The difference in metabolism between the two is explained in detail here.

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

Conclusion

You may have heard that women tend to accumulate fat more around their hips, possibly because of hormonal factors. This is a pear-type fat distribution. In men who turn obese the fat accumulation follows an apple pattern. This type has a more aggressive metabolism in the fat tissue with inflammatory kinins accessing the blood circulation. It also affects the blood/brain barrier. Normally this barrier does not allow proteins to enter the brain. But when a person is obese, inflammatory kinins and proteins can enter the brain freely causing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Many obese people also develop type-2 diabetes leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Low fat diet from the 1980’s

The low fat diet of the 1980’s has caused a lot of obesity around the world. The problem is that merchants who provide low fat products have replaced fat with refined sugar. The liver converts refined sugar into fatty acids and triglycerides. These end up as fatty tissue. Given enough time this is causing obesity. Those who are obese need to cut out refined sugar in its many disguises. In addition they also need to cut down their starchy food intake. In the gut starchy foods break down into sugar.

When you cut out sugar and starchy foods, a person will typically lose 50 pounds in 3 months, at which point they have lost the label of “obesity”. They will also feel more energetic. The best advise for you is to maintain your weight loss with a Mediterranean diet. Research studies have shown that it is beneficial and anti-inflammatory.

Sep
29
2018

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

New research, more extensive than previous research has shown that no amount of alcohol is good.

This is completely against the widespread belief that moderate consumption of alcohol would prevent heart disease.

Specifically, previous research had shown the following: one glass of alcohol per day for women and 2 glasses of alcohol for men was reportedly make us live longer.

New research with larger population numbers

But a new study involving much larger population groups, all ages, and drinkers versus non-drinkers came to a different conclusion. It concluded that the previous recommendation was based on only heart attack rates, but excluded other causes of sudden death like heart failure, a rupture of the aorta (aneurysm), high blood pressure that kills (fatal hypertensive disease) and strokes. With the compilation of all these cardiovascular diseases, the statistics suddenly started to look different. Now even small amounts of alcohol killed. What is worse, there was clear evidence that binge drinkers have much worse survival statistics than moderate drinkers. When you drink according to the American Heart Association’s recommendation, you drink smaller amounts of alcohol daily.

Binge drinking

But many of us like to live it up on weekends or whenever there are friends over who also like a few drinks. This binge drinking habit lowers the life expectancy by an average of 10 years. It does so because the list of complications I mentioned above. In addition there are alcoholic liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and various cancers that shorten your life.

Global health study

The funders of this global health study was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it looked at the burden that alcohol puts on 195 countries. The original study appeared in the Lancet. The combined study population was 28 million individuals. There were 649,000 cases of various deaths due to alcohol. Here is a summary of the abbreviated outcome of the global health study. As you can see from this, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption as even small amounts of alcohol over a long period of time lead to significant damage in the body. You can prevent heart attacks to a certain extent. But instead people die from a ruptured aorta, from strokes or from heart failure. The leading cause of death for men and women age 15 to 49 worldwide was alcohol. It accounted for almost 1 in 10 deaths.

Some alcohol-related statistics

The following were the observaions in the study.

  • Over 300 disabilities and diseases were directly related to alcohol consumption. The findings were collected in 195 countries, classified by age and sex. The data was gathered between 1990 and 2016.
  • Globally, 2.4 billion people drink alcohol. 25% are women who consume 0.73 drinks on average each day, 39% are men drinking 1.7 drinks a day.
  • Denmark, Norway and Germany drank the most alcohol globally.
  • For ages 50 and up the leading causes of death were: road injuries, suicides and tuberculosis.

More statistics

  • Most deaths caused by alcohol came from cardiovascular disease and cancer for all countries.
  • When you look only at drinkers, the standard recommendation of the American Heart Association regarding low alcohol consumption seems true. But the new study compared non-drinkers with drinkers. From this it is clear that even one drink a day has a risk of premature death.
  • At the age of 40 cutting down long-term alcohol use will add 1 to 2 years of life expectancy.
  • For all ages 2.8 million people die globally every year from alcohol related diseases.
  • Half of the world does not drink at all. This means that the ones, who drink, consume double as much as the statistics show.
  • Americans prefer beer. They drink about 27 gallons of beer, 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per adult/year.

Common clinical conditions from alcohol consumption

Binge drinking is the consumption of 5 drinks or more in an evening for men or 4 drinks for women. The CDC is concerned about binge drinking, because of its association with significant organ damages. There are 4 major concerns regarding these effects. Heart disease and cancer; diabetes; memory loss and appearance. In the following I will zero in on these alcohol-related conditions. 

Heart disease

As this article pointed out above, there is a very limited protective effect, but mostly in above 55-year-old women who drink in moderation (1 glass of alcohol; per day). They have some protection from developing heart attacks, because their LDL cholesterol gets lowered and their clotting system is influenced in positive ways. But 6% of breast cancer in women is due to the effect of alcohol consumption, which is a downfall. For both men and women binge drinking is what kills. Binge drinkers who drink more than 100 grams of alcohol per week (more than 7 drinks in the US) experience increased deaths. The causes are heart failure, strokes, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where the main artery bursts. Apart from that alcohol-related pancreatitis and liver cirrhosis can kill as well.

Cancer

A relatively new finding is that alcohol has a close relationship to causing various cancers. Alcohol weakens the immune system. Also, alcohol has a negative influence on the bacterial composition, the microbiome in our digestive tract, is. This can be a cause for colon cancer. Liver cancer, mouth cancer and breast cancer also has a direct relationship to increased alcohol consumption. Esophageal cancer and laryngeal cancer are also related to alcohol consumption.

Diabetes

Alcohol can stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which may give you hypoglycemic attacks. As alcohol contains empty calories, over the course of several years alcohol consumption can add to your weight, causing obesity and type 2 diabetes. As diabetes has detrimental effects on the heart and blood vessels, this mixed with alcohol consumption, can worsen cardiovascular disease thus increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Memory loss

In the beginning of chronic alcohol consumption you may enjoy the relaxing effect of alcohol. This is merely the toxic effect of alcohol on brain cells. Alcohol has the effect of inhibiting brain cells, which makes you feel relaxed, super-sociable and even silly. In reality you are starting to loose control. After several years of this effect you are left with feelings of anxiety, depression and anger. This is when trouble starts to occur. People out of control are more likely to get into fights and get injured or killed. People can develop blackouts where they do not remember parts of the evening or an entire event. Memory loss is starting. The hippocampus is an important part of the brain that is involved in processing short- term memory into long-term memory. A form of dementia can occur that was brought on by chronic alcohol overconsumption.

Appearance

Alcohol dries out the skin cells and body cells. The face gets wrinkles. Your skin looks parched and gives you the appearance of a prematurely aged person. Alcohol can interfere with your sleep and when you have a lack of it you end up with dark circles around your eyes as well as puffy eyes. It does not make for a good picture, whether it happens inside the body or on your skin!

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

Conclusion

A new study that was larger and more comprehensive than any previous study has exposed the myth that one drink for women and two drinks for men would protect you from heart disease. It may protect you from heart attacks, but it definitely does nothing to protect you from other heart conditions. There is also sudden death from heart failure, a rupture of the aorta (aneurysm), high blood pressure that kills (fatal hypertensive disease) and stroke. When you factor all that in as well, even your low, moderate alcohol consumption has health risks. The global health study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looked at the burden that alcohol puts on 195 countries. The combined study population was 28 million individuals.

Alcohol related deaths and diseases

649, 000 registered cases of various deaths occurred due to alcohol. This included deaths from traffic accidents, injuries, cancer, heart disease and suicide. This global study compared the life expectancy and disease frequencies of alcohol-consuming people with non-alcohol consuming people. It concluded that non-alcohol consuming people live on an average up to 10 years longer than their alcohol-consuming counterparts. No studies up to now have been that comprehensive. The results from twenty-eight million people speak for themselves, and the death statistics are clear. It is worthwhile to look at the details and draw your own conclusion.

Aug
25
2018

The Downside Of Living To 100

A review article has examined longevity and reviewed the downside of living to 100. In their 80’s about 10% of the population live in nursing homes, but among centenarians 55% are residing in nursing homes. They are often very lonely, as their social circles have shrunk as they aged.

Common diseases of older people

Osteoarthritis makes it difficult for people to get around, it causes chronic pain and it can also be the reason for falls. In 1990 there were 213.4 cases of osteoarthritis per 100,000. 26 years later, in 2016 there were 232.1 cases of osteoarthritis per 100,000 people.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been falling, because less people smoke cigarettes now. Statistics show 1667 cases of COPD per 100,000 in 1990, but only 945 cases of COPD per 100,000 in 2016.

Diarrhea and common infections have dropped sharply from 8951 per 100,000 in 1990 to 3276 per 100,000 in 2016.

What other common diseases do older people get?

There are a number of common diseases that affect the elderly.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the hips and the knees are common, but it can affect every joint in the body. In the end stage knee replacements or hip replacements may be necessary. But before a total knee replacement or total hip replacement can even come into consideration, the person’s heart needs a thorough checkup to ensure that it is safe for the patient to undergo surgery under a general anesthetic.

Heart disease

Older people often have heart disease.

When coronary arteries are narrowed, heart attacks occur. Cardiologists can place stents, so that previously narrowed coronary arteries receive normal blood flow. Following such a procedure the patient may live for another 10 to 15 years.

There are also heart valve calcifications. The aortic valve is particularly endangered. A heart surgeon may be able to replace a diseased aortic valve by a porcine valve.

The nervous system of the heart transmits electrical signals from the sinus node to the muscle fibers, which can get diseased. Heart rhythm problems may necessitate the insertion of a pacemaker.

Finally, the heart may enlarge, but pump less blood than before. This condition is congestive heart failure. The 5-year survival for this condition is only 50.4%. Unfortunately there is very little the doctor can do for patients like this.

Cancer

The older we get, the more DNA mutations we accumulate. At one point cancer develops. If the diagnosis happens at an early stage there is a good chance that surgery can remove a cancerous growth, and the patient survives. But there are cancers that are notoriously difficult to recognize in the early stages. These are: cancer of the pancreas, kidney cancer, stomach cancer and certain types of leukemias.

Respiratory diseases

Those who smoked earlier in life may develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is a chronically disabling lung disorder. Often these individuals have to carry an oxygen tank with them wherever they go. The 5-year survival rate for people with COPD is 40 to 70%.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is brittle. Spontaneous bone fractures can occur at the wrists, the upper thigh bone (femoral fractures) or in the vertebral bones. Women in menopause are hormone deficient and this contributes to calcium depletion of the bones. Lately research has shown that vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 are necessary for a normal calcium metabolism. Briefly, 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 and 5000 IU of vitamin D3 every day are the necessary dosage that the body can absorb calcium from the gut, eliminate it from the blood vessels and deposit it into the bone. Calcium is present in milk products and milk. If a person does not consume enough milk products a supplement of 1000 mg of calcium daily does make sense.

Alzheimer’s

The older we get, the more likely it is an onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Between the ages of 90 to 94 there is a yearly increase of Alzheimer’s of 12.7% per year. The group from age 95 to 99 years has a yearly increase of Alzheimer’s of 21.2% per year. Persons aged 100 years and older have an increase of Alzheimer’s by 40.7% per year. What this means is that essentially there is a doubling of Alzheimer’s every 5.5 years. We do not have all of the answers why this is happening and why Alzheimer’s develops. But we do know that diabetics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. High blood sugar levels and high insulin levels seem to lead to the precipitation of the tau protein in the brain, which causes Alzheimer’s.

Diabetes

When diabetes is not well controlled, there is accelerated hardening of the arteries. This can cause heart attacks and strokes. Longstanding diabetes can affect the kidneys (diabetic nephropathy, kidney damage) and can lead to hardening of the leg arteries. Often the only treatment left is a below knee amputation. Blindness from uncontrolled diabetes is common and pain from diabetic neuropathy as well.

Diabetics have an average life expectancy of 77 to 81 years. However, if they pay attention to their blood sugars and manage their diabetes closely they can live past the age of 85.

Falls and balance problems

As people age, their balance organ is not functioning as well. Also, people with high blood pressure medication may have postural hypotensive episodes that can lead to falls.

There may be a lack of cognitive functioning and misjudging of steps, ledges and irregularities in the floor. When a person has brittle bones from osteoporosis and they fall, a hip fracture is very common. At a higher age surgery for a hip fracture is dangerous. It can have a mortality of 50%.

Obesity

A person with obesity has a life expectancy that is 10 years less than a person without obesity. The reason for this is that with obesity This is so, because the risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, arthritis and diabetes is increased.

Depression

Older people often get depressed. It even has its own name: involutional depression. People can get into a state of mind, where they think negatively. Depressed people feel that they have nothing to live for. They lost friends; they are shut in because they can’t drive a car any more. This type of depression needs treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist. The danger of leaving depression untreated is that the person may get suicidal. In older people depression is often precipitated by physical health problems.

Oral health

When teeth are not looked after, gingivitis and periodontitis can develop. Infected gums can shed bacteria into the blood and this can affect the heart valves. Endocarditis, the infection of heart valves, is a cardiological emergency. Prolonged antibiotic therapy is necessary to overcome this condition.

Poverty

Poverty has real consequences. The aging person may not have access to the optimal medical care facility because of a lack of funds. But even at a younger age there is evidence that people are healthier when they are wealthier.

Shingles

Older people often get shingles, even if they had chickenpox or shingles as a child. This is evidence that the immune system is getting weaker. Shingles in an older person should alarm the treating physician that there could be an underlying cancer. Due to that knowledge a cancer-screening tests should be part of the medical exam. In addition, a varicella vaccine should be offered to the patient to build up immunity.

The Downside Of Living To 100

The Downside Of Living To 100

Conclusion

Living to 100 is often glorified in the press. Maybe you have seen a 90-year old jogger completing a marathon, or you saw an 85-year old couple ballroom dancing. But what they don’t show you is what I summarized here, the less glamorous things about living to 100. You may get a heart attack or a stroke. Osteoarthritis may affect you how you walk. Congestive heart failure may make you get short of breath when you walk upstairs. Then there are various cancer types that are difficult to diagnose early.

If you have smoked in the past, you may suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which leaves you breathless.

Other illnesses

Osteoporosis can lead to spontaneous fractures. Because the bone has a lack of calcium, this is difficult to treat and takes a long time to heal.

Alzheimer’s is ever so much more common when you approach the year 100. There are other medical conditions you can get: obesity, diabetes and depression. When you get shingles for the second time, it may mean that your immune system is getting weak and a cancer-screening test should be done.

There are some downsides when you approach the age of 100.

Know your risks and be vigilant

You may keep your physician busy checking out various age-related illnesses, but more importantly, get regular check-ups and tests. Any condition is easier to treat with an earlier diagnosis! The message for anybody reading this is very simple. Prevention through healthy living is something you can actively pursue. Keep your body and your mind busy. Enjoy time with friends and family instead of living a solitary existence. See the glass that is half full instead of viewing it as half empty. Stick to a healthy diet. Knowing all the risks is not a scare but a call to being vigilant. Knowledge is powerful and will help you to enjoy your golden years feeling well and happy.