Feb
22
2020

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Dr. Kurt Hong, professor of clinical medicine spoke about clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 14, 2019. Although he spoke on various forms of fasting, he concluded that the fasting mimicking diet had the best results and was most consumer-friendly.

How we age

Dr. Hong reviewed the processes of aging. We age, because our cells experience oxidative damage and our telomeres (the end caps of our chromosomes) get shorter in time. We also age, because there are genetic mutations in our cells’ DNA and our mitochondria are aging as well. The mitochondria are the small energy packages inside the cells that give us energy. When people age, they have lost mitochondria, there is less energy that the body makes out of food and we feel chronically tired.

Above the age of 65 we are also likely to develop diseases of various organs:

  • Heart disease: 31%
  • Cancer: 24%
  • Chronic lung disease (lower respiratory disease): 21%
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 13%
  • Diabetes: 11%

Women are generally healthier than men and their life expectation is 4 to 5 years longer than that of men.

Cellular and molecular aging

Longevity researchers have done mouse experiments and human clinical trials for decades. Dr. Hong asked the question: how much longer could humans live, if we could cure cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes? The answer is: 13 years. But if we transfer the animal data to humans it should be 30 years of longer life. Why is there such a discrepancy? The answer is that it is easy to force good lifestyles onto animals, but humans are resistant to changes. Humans have their habits; they like to continue to smoke and eat fast food instead of switching to a healthier Mediterranean diet. Humans also resist a regular exercise program. And they do not want to hear that they should replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones. The result is that we humans will prolong our lives only by less than 50% of what we could achieve.

The concept of intermittent fasting

Dr. Hong stated, that ten thousand years ago, people did not always have enough food to eat. They were forced to intermittently fast. That did not mean that they had long life expectancies, as there was no cure for any disease. But one fact was true: the body learnt to rejuvenate itself during periods of fasting. And these longevity genes are still present in our genes. But they will only help us when we actually fast for some periods of time.

Dr. Hong reviewed what kind of fasting methods are available.

Prolonged fasting and juice fasting are not among the options. With prolonged fasting electrolyte disturbances become an issue. Juice fasting does not remove enough calories and nutrients. This, however is needed to allow the body to stimulate the longevity genes.

How fasting diets work

Dr. Hong explained that there are essentially 5 fasting diets that are effective in regulating the key nutrient sensitive pathways of IGF-1, TOR and PKA. This increases cellular protection and maintenance. It also increases activation of stress resistance pathways and removes and replaces damaged and dysfunctional cells. Finally, a fasting diet also reduces inflammation, which is often the start of disease.

A review of the 5 fasting diets

Time-restricted eating (TRE)

With TRE the person fasts for 12 to 16 hours every day. The person restricts the daily food consumption to a 4- to 12-hour window. The disadvantage is that this fast is done every day. The period of fasting may not be long enough to change the metabolism, where the above-mentioned effects take place.

Alternate-day fasting  

This is a 24-hour fast every other day with a 1:1 day eating-fasting cycle. This does not appear to be physiological and is disruptive with regard to social activities.

5:2 intermittent fasting

With this fast you fast for 2 days every week. With this 2:5 eating-fasting cycle the person fasts for 2 days every week; the other 5 days you eat as much as you desire.

Although this is effective, it can be quite disruptive to your lifestyle.

Periodic fasting

You fast for 48 to 72 hours every couple of months. This fast is socially more acceptable. It is not that often, just a couple of times in a year. The question remains whether it is effective in changing the metabolism to trigger the effects mentioned above.

Fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)

The original suggestion by Dr. Longo, the inventor of the FMD was that you should fast for 5 days once every month. Since then he has modified it and said that you can achieve similar metabolic changes, if you only fast for 3 days and do this a couple of times per year. I have done the FMD since December 2017 and I adhere to the original schedule of doing the FMD monthly for 5 days. This has provided me with more energy. It is easier to keep my body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Dr. Hong explained that the FMD allows you to eat, but it tricks the body into acting like you are fasting. Because you are eating 500 to 600 calories per day, you are getting some fluid and nutrients, so the hunger pangs are tolerable.

More details about the FMD

Here is Dr. Hong’s summary about the FMD: “The stomach sees food, while the cells see fasting”. Dr. Hong said that the FMD is the most user-friendly method of fasting. It also has had the most scientific studies to validate that it is indeed working. Poorly functioning mitochondria and misfolded proteins are removed by a process of phagocytosis. The FMD reduces heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Stem cell production also gets a boost. This promotes cell regeneration and reduces risk factors of premature aging.

Publication on the effectiveness of the FMD

A publication came out in 2017 reporting about the findings of a clinical trial regarding the FMD.

Researchers followed markers of aging, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease in 100 volunteers. They underwent a FMD for 5 days on 3 consecutive months. The results were astounding. The body mass index, the fasting blood sugar level, triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol and the CRP were all lower. CRP stands for C-reactive protein, which measures the degree of inflammation in the body. The blood pressure was also lower. Overall the 5-day FMD was a safe method with no side effects. The FMD reduced markers and risk factors of aging and age-related diseases. In doing so it prolongs life by reducing the likelihood of coming down with disease.

Who should abstain from fasting?

Dr. Hong mentioned that the FMD is not for everybody. Pregnant women should refrain from going on it, also type 1 and type 2 insulin dependent diabetics. Anybody who has a sign of an active infection (coughing, having a fever or diarrhea) should be excluded. Other exclusions are people who are underweight (BMI less than 18.5) or are malnourished (protein deficiency). Patients with heart failure and advanced kidney or liver disease should not take part in a fasting program.

Autoimmune diseases and FMD

The myelin sheath around the axon of nerve cells in the central nervous system are supported by oligodendrocytes. In multiple sclerosis (MS) patients T lymphocytes activate macrophages and B cells to produce autoantibodies. They destroy oligodendrocytes breaking down the insulating barrier of the myelin sheath. In MS patients the broken-down myelin sheath suppresses the electrical impulses transmitted through the nerve fibers. The FMD led to clinical improvements.

In a pilot study intermittent fasting changed the gut flora into a healthier flora.

This triggered the immune system in the gut to make less inflammatory T cells producing the IL-17 cytokines. There was also an increase in regulatory T helper cells.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBM) can be improved with several courses of FMD. As the authors showed, intestinal inflammation improved with FMD. The intestinal gut flora improved with the FMD and it promoted intestinal regeneration.

Reversal of physical and functional decline

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) has a variety of effects on the human body. Dr. Hong showed a slide where we could see that ketone bodies, cortisol and ghrelin levels are increased in the blood. At the same time glucose, insulin, leptin and IGF-1 levels are reduced. In addition, triglycerides and LDL levels are getting lower. Inflammatory markers including the C-reactive protein (CRP) are reduced as well.

Effects of the FMD on various organs in the body

A look at all of the organs shows that in the liver the ketone body production and insulin sensitivity are up. Glycogen production in the liver as well as the liver size are down.

The intestines produce ketone bodies. In the skeletal muscles the insulin sensitivity is increased, while the muscle structure and function are improved. In the brain the hunger feeling increases the release of neurotropic factors including the neuropeptide Y. Cognitive function and stress resistance increase with the FMD. The FMD reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. With respect to the cardiovascular system the heart rate drops down and blood pressure gets lower. The insulin production in the pancreas is reduced.

Fatty tissue

In fatty tissue lipolysis is up and also the production of adiponectin. This is a protein hormone involved in glucose and fatty acid metabolism. Insulin sensitivity with the FMD is also increased. On the other hand, the FMD reduces fat mass, leptin production and inflammation.

The FMD is the solution to preventing disease and prolonging your life

All of these effects lead to a reversal of physiologic and functional declines. Age-related metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes are postponed or eliminated. The FMD prevents neuro-cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the risk of developing cancer is getting lower. In summary, the FMD improves the health-span, quality of life and can prepare you for a long life.

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Conclusion

Dr. Kurt Hong is a professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. He gave a talk at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2019. He discussed what we could do to help patients with various autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. It turns out that the fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is the best solution to reduce inflammation and modify  the autoimmune response from aggressive T lymphocytes. With the FMD you consume only 500 to 600 calories per day for 5 days every month. The rest of the days of the month you eat a healthy Mediterranean-type diet.

Fasting mimicking diet, the best way to treat autoimmune diseases

Dr. Hong explained in detail what cellular mechanisms are at work to achieve the modification of the immune system in autoimmune diseases. The FMD is also the solution to slow down aging in healthy people. Dr. Hong discussed clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet fort autoimmune diseases. It is easier to prevent disease than it is to cure an illness. The FMD is an easier way, because you don’t fast completely, you only reduce your food intake to the bare minimum, but your body “thinks” that you are fasting.

Ultimately, this approach does take some effort, and it does take time to familiarize yourself with it. If patients do it for the first time, they will experience some hunger, the first and second day tend to be a hurdle! Once you make it part of a health routine on a regular basis, it is a lot easier.

Incoming search terms:

Jan
25
2020

Nitric Oxide (NO) Can Provide You With Energy

Dr. Nathan S. Bryan explained that nitric oxide (NO) can provide you with energy. His presentation was given at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15, 2019 that I attended. Dr. Bryan worked at the Department of Human Genetics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In his 20 years of research he asked the following questions:

  • How does the human body produce NO?
  • There are people who cannot make NO; what went wrong in these people?
  • What are the clinical consequences when NO is missing?
  • How do you fix or restore your inborn NO production?

Mental disease is also closely related to heart disease and to strokes. Over 44 million patients in the US have a mental illness. Mental disease and heart disease are linked by the fact that both have higher rates of heart attacks and strokes. Marc de Hert et al. published a paper entitled: “The intriguing relationship between coronary heart disease and mental disorders”.

Mental health and heart disease related

Mental health and heart disease are related. Both show increased heart attack rates  and strokes. But there is another important finding: sexual dysfunction is common among psychiatric patients. The sexual dysfunction among schizophrenic patients was related to both the psychobiology and the pharmacotherapy. Emotional and sex-related problems were  more common in a patients group who experienced poor physical and emotional health.

Another finding that shows the importance of normal circulation is peripheral artery disease (PAD). A group of people with depression had an increase in PAD.

SPECT scans of brains as a tool to investigate circulation

SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography. It is a tool that Dr. Amen has used for years to study the brain.  He found, for instance that with chronic marijuana use the brain circulation develops deficiencies where certain parts of the brain are not properly perfused. This is associated with certain brain malfunctions. When the patient is rehabilitated the blood circulation to the brain gradually recovers. Dr. Bryan noted that there is a decrease in blood flow with every chronic disease. If we can restore blood flow to the region in the brain where where there is a blood flow disturbance, we can cure many neurological diseases.

Restoration of circulation with nitric oxide (NO)

Dr. Bryan showed vignettes of improved body circulation with systemic nitric oxide therapy. One example was that nitric oxide supports a healthy blood pressure. At the same time nitric oxide also improves endothelial function. A 13% increase in blood vessel diameter increases blood flow by 34%!

Thermographic images show a 49-year-old smoker with Raynaud disease in the hands. Within 10 minutes after nitric oxide application the poorly circulated fingers showed a sudden opening up and normal perfusion to the fingers.

Nitric oxide can repair skin damage

Before and after pictures showed the effect of anti-aging skin care serum with nitric oxide. The anti-aging skin care serum improved skin texture, increased elasticity, evened skin tone, restored moisture, reduced fine lines and wrinkles and created tighter and smoother skin. A chronic skin ulcer on a woman’s right chin disappeared in a matter of a few weeks and healed with hardly any scar formation.

Here are some final remarks on nitric oxide replacement

Dr. Bryan concluded with these remarks: Nitric oxide governs vascular structure and function. NO production undergoes an age-related decline. This leads to cardiovascular risks and neurological disorders. Restoring NO production improves tissue perfusion and vascular function. Strategies of nitric oxide production will positively affect general health and the aging process. Any anti-aging strategy should include nitric oxide as a tool.

Nitric Oxide (NO) Can Provide You With Energy

Nitric Oxide (NO) Can Provide You With Energy

Conclusion

Dr. Bryan gave a good overview of how nitric oxide (NO) can help people to improve their complexion, their perfusion, and how cardiac and neurological disorder can be prevented. Before and after pictures showed the effect of anti-aging skin care serum with nitric oxide. The anti-aging skin care serum improved skin texture, increased elasticity, evened skin tone, restored moisture, reduced fine lines and wrinkles and created tighter and smoother skin. A chronic skin ulcer on a woman’s right chin disappeared in a matter of a few weeks and healed with hardly any scar formation.

But these are only examples about skin appearance. Perhaps the more important aspect of nitric oxide is the repair of the lining of the arteries and the improvement of circulation to various organs. Nitric oxide can even prevent neurological disease with regular consumption.

Incoming search terms:

Dec
21
2019

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been increasing in the general population. About 25% of all Americans suffer from this condition. It is more common among obese, overweight and diabetic patients. But it is also very common in people whose gut bacteria are abnormal. Antibiotic residues in red meat and in poultry can cause these gut bacteria changes according to scientists. Metabolic products of these abnormal gut bacteria are absorbed in the gut and end up in the portal vein. This is a large vein collecting all the nutrients and leaked toxins and transports them to the liver. The liver detoxifies toxins and digests nutrients. In the process the liver can get inflamed and turn into a fatty liver.

Fatty liver is still reversible

When liver damage continues, fibrotic changes can develop and liver cirrhosis is the next stage of this disease. Fatty liver is still reversible, but liver cirrhosis is not.

The January 2020 edition of LifeExtension magazine contains a review of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It also tells you what you can do to normalize the condition. In the following I am reviewing this article.

Probiotics can help to reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Two studies that I will describe in more detail later showed that probiotics can reduce inflammation in the blood significantly and can reverse fatty liver disease. Abnormal bacteria in the gut can also lead to leaky membranes of the gut wall. This can become permanent and the condition has the name “leaky gut syndrome”. Researchers have linked this condition to the development of autoimmune diseases. People with obesity and with high blood sugars (people with diabetes) have the highest risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The condition (NAFLD) does not produce any symptoms. But a combination of blood tests and scans can diagnose the condition.

Good and bad gut bacteria

If you allow the bad gut bacteria to stay, inflammation of the gut wall with leaky gut syndrome develops. This allows bacteria, toxins and other substances that should stay out of the blood to enter the body. Researchers have found that good bacteria can control the gut inflammation by taking probiotics, that will allow the leaky gut wall to heal. They found the following bacteria to be beneficial:

  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus

Probiotics usually contain most or all of these good bacteria. This allows the inflamed gut wall to heal and restore the gut barrier.

Two human trials

A  randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was published in 2014. 52 patients with NAFLD who were overweight or obese were taking probiotics twice a day versus a placebo control group. After 28 weeks the experimental group showed normalized liver enzymes and a significantly reduced C-reactive protein. The C-reactive protein was reduced by 54% in comparison to the placebo group.

The other clinical trial consisted of 50 patients with NAFLD, but a normal or low body mass index. Half of the patients were taking probiotics, the other half placebo pills. The researchers noted that after 28 weeks the inflammatory markers were much lower in the experimental group than in the placebo group. Also, the liver values were now normal.

Discussion

Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are in danger of progressing to liver cirrhosis and liver failure. At this point only a liver transplant could rescue them from death. However, as the clinical trials have shown, the use of probiotics to normalize the gut bacteria can normalize the inflammation of the gut and reverse fatty liver disease. Regular exercise and weight loss through the use of a lower calorie diet will also help in normalizing the liver function. When prebiotics are added to probiotics the healing effect is amplified even further. Prebiotics contain fiber that cannot be digested, but which is useful for bacteria from the probiotics to multiply on.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Conclusion

We need to pay more attention to the food we are consuming. For instance, regular beef in the US contains antibiotic residues that permanently change the gut flora. This leads to an inflammatory reaction of the gut wall and leaky gut syndrome. Gut bacteria and toxic substances can now enter into the portal vein and reach the liver. The liver attempts to detoxify this, but in the process, it also develops non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). About 25% of Americans have this condition, which is asymptomatic. The only way to diagnose it is through blood tests and scans. Two clinical trials have documented that NAFLD can reverse back to normal with the consumption of probiotics. Regular exercise and weight loss (calorie-reduced diet) also help to reverse NAFLD back to normal liver tissue. It is obvious that a timely intervention is necessary to avoid the progression to liver cirrhosis!

Incoming search terms:

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.

Incoming search terms:

Nov
02
2019

A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

It is not the first time that there has been an announcement of a new drug for Alzheimer’s. In the first place, in 2013 Pfizer had to admit that their new drug did not exceed the effects of placebo. Second, in 2016 Eli Lilly’s drug solanezumab failed to show effects in Phase 3 trials. Third, Merck developed a drug that was supposed to fight beta-amyloid plaques of the brain in Alzheimer patients. But the drug was not effective and the trials were discontinued in 2017. Fourth, Johnson & Johnson’s attempted to develop a drug that would slow cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s patients. But study participants developed elevated liver enzymes indicating liver toxicity. The trial stopped in May 2018. This meant that a new drug for Alzheimer’s had not been developed.

New drug against Alzheimer’s may be expensive

In like manner the pharmaceutical giant, Biogen and its Japanese partner Eisai have now announced that they were successful in Phase 3 clinical trials with the new drug aducanumab. In other words, patients with Alzheimer’s disease experienced better brain function, memory, cognition, orientation and language. One of the doctors involved in clinical trials of this drug notably mentioned that even, if the FDA hurdles are overcome, the drug might be extremely expensive. This could be devastating to patients and families of Alzheimer’s patients, who are most likely unable to afford a costly medication.

Alternative approach to treating and preventing Alzheimer’s

At the 22nd Annual A4M Las Vegas Conference in mid December 2014 Pamela Smith gave a presentation entitled ”How To Maintain Memory At Any Age”. She gave a comprehensive overview of what you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Surely, the better we understand the causes of Alzheimer’s the more we can interfere with the biochemical processes that lead to Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Specifically, there are many lifestyles that cause memory loss: too much stress (from high cortisol levels that damage the hippocampus); smoking that damages acetylcholine receptors; chronic alcohol abuse leads to memory problems from the toxic effect of alcohol on brain cells. This in turn causes a disbalance of serotonin, endorphins and acetylcholine in the hippocampus. This area of the brain is where our memory is located.

Lack of exercise

The first thing to remember is that a lack of exercise is an independent risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise increases the blood supply to the brain, strengthens neural connections and leads to growth of neurons, the basic building blocks of the brain. In addition, mood-regulating neurotransmitters are also receiving a boost (serotonin and endorphins).

Inflammatory conditions, foods and drugs that can affect memory

Conversely, any inflammatory condition can trigger destruction of neurons, so do the beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. By the same token, contributory factors can be food allergies, disbalance of gut bacteria, recreational drugs (particularly ecstasy) and certain medications. Equally important, Dr. Smith stated that the most common foods causing allergies that affect the brain are: sugar, wheat, dairy, eggs, shellfish, potatoes, beef, tomatoes, corn, coffee, peanuts, roasted soy beans and yeast. Moreover, Dr. Smith mentioned that the following medications can affect memory: statins, sedatives, steroids, levodopa, muscle relaxants, antihypertensive drugs, antidepressants, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, anti-arrhythmic drugs, pain relieving drugs (analgesics) and antihistamines. Regarding antihistamines it is only the older type like Nytol, Benadryl, Ditropan and Piriton, which have strong “anticholinergic” effects and make you tired.  If you are on any of these, you may want to discuss alternatives with your doctor. Similarly, Dr. Perlmutter mentioned in Ref. 1 that statins interfere with brain function and can lead to Alzheimer’s.

Promoting brain health

Medication helps only to stall further memory loss for up to 6 months, so Dr. Smith said about medications only: “much research is still necessary in this area”.

On the other hand she stated that many foods, vitamins and supplements in combination could improve memory and prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

She spent considerable time in the remainder of her talk on details regarding foods, vitamins and supplements.

Dr. Smith said that we need to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants like blueberries, apples, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; cherries, cranberries, cooked kale, garlic, grapes, prunes, raisins and raw spinach. But at the same time she stressed that we cannot trust the food industry anymore, and we need to buy organic foods. She gave an example of the “dirty dozen” as defined by the environmental working group (contaminated fruits and vegetables).

Portion control and healthy fats

Food intake also applies to portions: eat 5 to 6 smaller meals per day. Consume red meat no more than three times per week.

The brain needs fats like nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts etc.

Fish also contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. The problem with predator fish like tuna or swordfish is that they have high contamination levels of mercury. But wild salmon and mackerel are still OK. A good alternative is to supplement with pharmaceutical grade EPA/DHA omega-3 capsules.

They are molecularly distilled, which means they are not contaminated with mercury or PBC’s, and they are more concentrated; they typically contain 1000 to 1400 mg of EPA/DHA per capsule. One to two capsules twice per day (a total of 2 to 4 per day) would be a good anti-inflammatory dose.

Specific food recommendations

Use olive oil and coconut oil for cooking; avoid the omega-6 oils (safflower oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil to just mention a few). These latter oils, which are heavily advertised by the food industry, create too much arachidonic acid leading to body inflammation. Your brain is very sensitive to inflammation, which causes Alzheimer’s. For the same reason avoid deep fried foods and processed foods.

There is more you need to watch for: no food additives, no artificial food colorings, no preservatives, flavors and MSG. Be alert about the food industry’s alternative “language” or terminology for MSG. The label often says “natural flavor”, “yeast extract” etc.

Brain nutrients

Dr. Smith reviewed a long list of brain nutrients that support the brain in its metabolism and prevent the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

I will only highlight the most effective and established nutrients here. 

DHA

It has been known since 1999 that Alzheimer’s patients are missing DHA in their system.

Molecularly distilled fish oil with high omega-3 fatty acids (both EPA and DHA) is one of the mainstays of prevention of inflammation in the body and the brain. 2 capsules twice per day of the concentrated 1000mg to 1400 mg capsules is a desirable dose to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Phosphatylserine (PS)

This phospholipid is part of the membrane of brain cells and controls what nutrients enter into them. It also increases the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine.

Dr. Smith mentioned that PS is naturally present in foods like brown rice, fish, soy and green vegetables (particularly the leafy ones). The daily dosage recommended by Dr. Smith is 300 mg (note: some people develop a bothersome, but harmless bitter taste in the mouth at this dose; in this case you can take a lower dose like 100 or 200 mg per day).

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo Biloba improves blood flow to the brain and counteracts shrinkage of the hippocampus with age. Dr. Smith recommends 60 mg to 240 mg daily.

Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant which helps stimulating the sprouting of new nerve cells and nerve fibers. Take 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid daily for memory.

Other supplements

Dr. Smith recommended many other supplements, which I will not explain in detail here: B vitamins, vitamin E and C, carnosine, acetyl-L-carnitine, boron, ginger, coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), curcumin, vinpocetine, zinc, grape seed extract, blueberry extract, Ashwaganda, glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline, SAMe, huperzine A and DMAE.

When the benefits of taking CoQ10 were discussed, Dr. Smith reminded the audience that “whatever is good for the heart, is good for the brain”. She recommended to read Dr. Perlmutter’s book from which this phrase was borrowed (Ref. 1). Her recommended dose of CoQ10 for people above the age of 50 was 400 mg per day. That’s double of what a 35-year old person would need.

Genetic factors

Dr. Smith pointed out that there are about 5 genes that have been detected to have an association with Alzheimer’s disease and in addition the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4). About 30% of people carry this gene, yet only about 10% get Alzheimer’s disease, which shows how important lifestyle factors are (in medical circles this is called “epigenetic factors”) to suppress the effect of the APOE4 gene. She also stated that our genes contribute only about 20% to the overall risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This leaves us with 80% of Alzheimer’s cases where we can use the brain nutrients discussed above and exercise to improve brain function. Since then new Alzheimer’s genes have been detected, namely a total of 25 genes. However, this does not change what Dr. Smith has stated, namely that a healthy lifestyle can mostly overrule the effects of genes and only 20% the genes will result in the overall risk to develop Alzheimer’s.

A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

Don’t wait for a magic pill by Big Pharma that they may come up with. The latest such pill may be aducanumab from Biogen and its Japanese partner Eisai. But as mentioned earlier the drug might be extremely expensive and unaffordable for the regular consumer.

Follow the simple steps in combination that Dr. Pamela Smith talked about in her presentation: Exercise, have organic food to keep toxins out of your body and brain, replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones and take supplements that are effective. In other words provide the right environment for your genes to work properly without getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Reference

  1. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

 

Incoming search terms:

Nov
17
2018

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antibiotic use in agriculture

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

Immune disruptors

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

Heavy metals

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

Arsenic levels also high in organic food

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

Rice grown in previous cotton plantation areas contaminated by arsenic

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

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

Arsenic in chicken

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

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

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

The “dirty dozen”

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

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

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

GMO foods and Roundup

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

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

Effects of Roundup

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

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

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

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

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Conclusion

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

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

Switching to organic food

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

Incoming search terms:

Aug
18
2018

Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

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

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

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

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

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

Lifestyle choices matter

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

Other studies that support the concept that lifestyles matter

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

Age

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

Family history

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

Environmental factors

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

History of Head injury

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

Heart disease

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

Older Latinos and older African Americans

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

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

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

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

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

Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

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

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

Jul
07
2018

Asthma In Adults

On April 6, 2018 CNN published an article about asthma in adults. It was called “Developing Severe Asthma in Adulthood”.

Asthma in adults occurs with a frequency of about 2.3 per 1000 people per year. This publication also noted that women suffer from this condition more often than men. For both sexes the occurrence of asthma in adults peaks at 35 years of age.

Symptoms of asthma

The triggering factors for asthma can be infections, allergies, or the condition can come on spontaneously. Coughing is one of the main symptoms. You may be breathless when walking stairs. You may feel weak or tired when exercising. After exercise you may be wheezing or coughing. If you measure your breathing capacity with a peak flow meter, the values are lower than normal. Cold air or irritants like cigarette smoke may trigger coughing or wheezing. In industrial workers the trigger for asthma can be noxious fumes.

Diagnosis of asthma

Spirometry

Your doctor likely will order a test, called spirometry. You are breathing into a tube with a connection to a spirometer. A technician will instruct you to breathe out to the max (maximal exhalation). Next you will have to breathe in as quickly as you can. These breathing activities translate into a breathing curve on the read-out of the spirometer. With asthma there is a certain degree of restriction of airflow due to spasms in the smaller bronchial tubes, called bronchioles. This will be obvious from the breathing pattern of the spirometry read-out.

Methacholine challenge test

When the spirometry test is normal or near normal, a Methacholine challenge test can be another diagnostic tool. If this produces an asthma attack, it is clear that the person does indeed have asthma.

Measuring nitric oxide in your breath

Our bodies normally produce nitric oxide, and a small amount of it appears in your breath. But if there is a large amount of it present in your breath, it indicates chronic inflammation in your airways, which can be one of the causes of asthma.

Other tests to rule out other related diseases

Your doctor may want to order sinus x-rays to rule out sinusitis or a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. If he suspects allergies a referral to an allergist sill be next. The specialist will do skin prick tests to see what you are reacting to.

Differential diagnosis of asthma and other diseases

When the physician is thinking about an asthma diagnosis, it will be necessary to exclude other diseases first. It is important to exclude a bronchial or lung infection as well as the presence of emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Clots in the pulmonary vasculature (pulmonary emboli) have to be ruled out. When there is a history of gastroesophageal reflux, tests should exclude that there is aspirated gastric contents into the lung. Another condition that could bring on wheezing is chronic congestive heart failure, where the heart fails to pump enough blood, and shortness of breath is a consequence. Tests are available to exclude all of these conditions.

Treatment of asthma in adults

Anti-inflammatory medication

As all patients with asthma have inflammation in the airways, it is important to use corticosteroid inhalers that will control this. These inhalers will control the swelling and mucous production in the lining of the bronchial tubes. With the daily use of these inhalers the airflow improves, the airways become less sensitive and the patient experiences fewer asthma episodes.

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are inhalers that will relax the muscle bands around the bronchial tubes. This allows the patient to breather easier. The mucous flows more freely and can be coughed up easier. There are short-acting and long-acting forms of bronchodilators. Your physician will instruct you which one to use.

Asthma In Adults

Asthma In Adults

Conclusion

Adult onset asthma is separate from asthma of childhood. Often the triggers are allergies or irritants, including industrial irritants. With a proper diagnosis and treatment adult asthmatics have a normal life expectancy. It is important to control the inflammation of the airways with anti-inflammatory corticosteroid inhalers. For acute asthma attacks a bronchodilator must be used right away to ensure normal airflow is restored. The patient learns how to modify the asthma therapy. As a result there are very few occasions where the patient would need treatment in a hospital. Most patients can treat an asthma attack quickly and they respond very well to the treatment. As a result adult asthmatics can lead active lives and have no physical limitations.

Incoming search terms:

Jun
30
2018

Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

A recent article has pointed out that there are 5 dangers that can lurk in beach sand. There are invisible bacteria that can pose a problem. But there are also parasites, fungi and parasitic roundworms. Here is a review of these common dangers.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: hookworms

In February 2018 a Canadian couple from Windsor/Ont. came back from a beach holiday in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. They brought with them parasites in their feet from walking barefoot on infested beaches in the Caribbean. This parasite is known to lay larvae into the sand that can survive there for several days. When beach goers walk barefoot the condition is right for the larvae to attach to the bare feet and puncture the skin. The full-grown hookworm can then develop and produce the symptoms described in the link (rash, itching, pain). The larvae of it are called “larvae migrans”, or in plain English the disease has the name “creeping eruption“. The best medicine for this condition is the anti-parasitic medication Ivermectin, the “wonder drug” from Japan. Originally developed in Japan, Ivermectin is available in the US, but not in Canada.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: Gut bacteria

A California study found that several gut bacteria were present in California beaches. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Aeromonas, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, human viruses (adenovirus, enterovirus, norovirus, and hepatitis A virus), amoeba, and protozoa were all cultured from beach sand. However, it is difficult to prove that any one of these pathogens would have caused any gastrointestinal upset. Just picking up one of these bugs on your skin does not mean you will come down with that particular infection. It makes sense though to wash your hands or take a shower after your beach walk. But the study noticed that there was a difference in the infection rate. There were those who only had casual contact with beach sand. Others were digging into sand or buried themselves in sand. The latter group was more likely to come down with gastrointestinal infections shortly after their beach outing.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: superbug MRSA

According to the California study cited above there were 2.7% of beach sand samples on California’s beaches that contained MRSA bugs. These are the cause of flesh-eating disease. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. When there is a cut in the skin, this antibiotic resistant bug can pose a big problem. On the other hand, it is not known whether the mere existence of MRSA on the skin actually poses a danger. Researchers do not know at the present time whether or not this will cause flesh-eating disease. But they recommend that after a beach visit it is a good idea to take a shower, as this will cleanse the skin to a large extent of any pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: fungi

The types of fungi that can hide in the beach sand belong to the group of dermatophytes. Common fungal skin infections are caused by the dermatophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, which is a very common dermatophyte, is the culprit that causes nail fungus, ringworm; jog itch and athlete’s foot. Other fungi around beaches are Aspergillus and Candida that affect mostly people with a weak immune system. Aspergillus may be responsible for lung infections and Candida for yeast infections.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: roundworms

Roundworms become a problem on beaches where dogs are allowed. The main problem is Toxocara canis, a parasitic roundworm. The roundworm normally lives in the gut of dogs. But dog feces from roundworm-infested dogs contain lots of eggs, which can get into soil along with the dog feces. People can inadvertently swallow contaminated sand. An Australian study found roundworm-infested samples among 266 random beach samples. They found that there were not as many positive samples when there were only adult dogs allowed on beaches. In contrast, they found a lot more positive roundworm samples in beaches were puppies were allowed.

Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

Conclusion

We associate pristine beaches with nature, health and relaxation. Knowing of these scientific studies we would do well to not let our guards down. Think about the ocean water: is it safe or could it be the cause of contamination of the beach sand? Then think about the beach itself. Is it a busy beach with lots of people that may contribute to contamination of the beach sand? Are dogs allowed or not? There may be dogs that defecate and deposit eggs of roundworms. Or there may be larvae from the creeping eruption, a parasitic disease. Other dangers can lurk in the sand: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is an antibiotic resistant bacterium that can cause flesh-eating disease. Other bacteria may be buried in the sand that can cause various gastrointestinal upsets.

Being more careful around beaches

Having these thoughts in mind may help you to be more careful about the beach and shower off after you leave the beach. It is also not a bad idea to wear sandals on the beach to prevent direct contact of your skin with the beach sand. It is also obvious that the beach towel on which you lay on the sand is no longer “clean”. Wash it after your beach outing, or choose the option to relax on a cot. Wherever you travel this summer, have a safe journey!

Incoming search terms:

Jun
02
2018

Combatting Aging using Artificial Intelligence

I found an article dealing with combatting aging using artificial intelligence. It comes from the April 2018 edition of the Life Extension Magazine.  Both of those concepts sound intriguing: “combatting aging”. It would be nice, if this would be a possibility! And “artificial intelligence” (A.I.) sounds mysterious. LifeExtension researchers have partnered up with an A.I. group, called Insilico Medicine.

Why did Life Extension engage in this project? Many people have side effects with the drug metformin, which is an old diabetes drug. It turns out that metformin stimulates anti-aging genes that help to elongate telomeres and also activate genes that prolong lives otherwise. The thought was to find out how exactly metformin protects against age-related disorders. Once researchers located the genes, they may be able to find herbs that can do the same as drugs with less side effects. Often herbs are safer than drugs.

Background regarding metformin

The FDA accepted metformin (trade name Glucophage) as the first-line therapy for type 2 diabetics, particularly if they are overweight or obese.

Side effects include gastrointestinal irritation with vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and flatulence. Even though this drug is not new, research does not fully understand all metabolic effects of metformin.

Promise of metformin as an anti-aging drug

A trial in Great Britain found that metformin has an interesting anti-aging effect. Diabetics on metformin lived longer than a control group of patients without diabetes who were not on metformin. The diabetics lived 15% longer than the controls. Further experiments with human cells and animal experiments showed that metformin is able to stimulate the mitochondria without producing as many free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation that leads to heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. The suggestion is that all of these diseases will be suppressed when the patient is on metformin.

Mimicking the effects of metformin with three herbs

The co-operative research between the Life Extension researchers and Insilico Medicine researchers concentrated on finding data that would replace the beneficial effects of metformin with three herbs stimulating the same life-prolonging targets in human cells. This is not a small task. The following three herbs in combination cover more than 78% of the actions of metformin.

Withaferin A (found in Ashwagandha)

Weight loss

Withaferin A is a component of the life-prolonging herb ashwagandha. This herb is in use in Ayurvedic medicine because of its ant-inflammatory action; it is also anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-obesity and has appetite-regulating activities. An important observation by researchers was that within 21 days of exposing obese mice to withaferin A they lost 23% of their weight. Other mice on the same diet received control solutions and did not lose weight.

Effect on neurodegenerative disease

There is a neurodegenerative condition, called Lou Gehrig disease (=amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). A group of mice that were the subjects of genetic modification to develop Lou Gehrig disease received withaferin A in their food. Compared to controls without withaferin A they had a 39% reduction of damaged proteins in their spinal cords. They also had 60% less loss of motor nerve cells. These are the nerve cells that pass on the electrical signals between the brain, the spinal cord and into the muscles. The life span of these animals that received withaferin A was 5.4% longer than control animals.

Ginsenoside (found in Ginseng)

The structure of ginsenoside is steroid-like. As the name already suggests, it is present in ginseng. The Insilico Medicine team noticed that it affects many of the same age-decelerating pathways like metformin. Ginsenoside prevents damage to the DNA and prevents loss of mitochondria, particularly in the brain and heart. In cancer cases ginsenoside also suppresses cancer stem cells, which slows down cancer growth. All in all ginsenoside reduces inflammatory changes; it also fights neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Gamma linolenic acid (present in borage seed oil)

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is a fatty acid. The source of it is the evening primrose plant, black currant oil or borage. The Insilico Medicine researchers found that many pathways that metformin triggers are also responding to GLA. GLA can reduce inflammation, help with adaptation to stress can modulate metabolism and participates in regulation of gene expression. GLA is also part of energy sensing in diabetes and obesity. It also can slow down cancer development.

Discussion

One has to be cognizant of the fact that LifeExtension is in the business of selling herbal supplements. It would be in the company’s interest to find an herbal combination that mimics what Metformin does. They say they have found it; so we are told in the April 2018 article of the LifeExtension magazine. But a 78% overlap of actions when the herbs were compared to metformin is not a 100% overlap.

Conflict of interest

There seems to be a conflict of interest between doing basic research on anti-aging and marketing an anti-aging product. I like to see confirmation of these findings by other independent researchers. I am not too keen to spend $1.40 every day for the rest of my life in the hopes that this herbal concoction would slow down aging. Also to state that this mix of three herbs would do the same as Metformin is a large leap of faith. At this point I am not even ready to swallow metformin just because of one trial in England that showed a beneficial anti-aging effect.

Combatting Aging using Artificial Intelligence

Combatting Aging using Artificial Intelligence

Conclusion

The old dream of finding a pill for anti-aging is alive and well. If you believe this research you are likely to buy this pill and keep on taking it for the rest of your life. But I am not so certain that either swallowing metformin or swallowing this herbal concoction will do what the researchers were hoping for. They have done some basic research with mice and rats. But they tested each of the herbs  separately, and the researchers have then mixed the herbs and claim, that this mix will do what each single herb in isolation has done. We do not know anything about the interaction between these herbs. We do not know whether there will be the same anti-aging results with the mix. All these claims are yet subject to more testing.

Proposed clinical trial

I like to see a human trial where the anti-aging pill of Life Extension is given once per day for several years (let’s say 5 years). After that anti-inflammatory indicators, telomere length and toxicity should be tested in each subject that is part of the study. If trials like this were successful in humans, I would consider buying this new supplement, but not any earlier!