Jun
20
2015

Seventeen Causes Of Blood Vessel Disease

We tend to ask the question: “What is the cause of blood vessel disease”? Would you have expected that at this point there are not just one cause, but seventeen causes of blood vessel disease identified that can all be treated? In the May 2015 issue of the Life Extension Magazine one of the causes, high homocysteine has been stressed as being an important risk factor that not every health professional has yet appreciated.

In the following overview I will briefly address all of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and then summarize what can be done to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

1. Excess cholesterol: Too much cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries. When we eat too much red meat too often, this extra dietary cholesterol can elevate your total blood cholesterol.

2. High LDL cholesterol: The LDL cholesterol is often labeled the “bad cholesterol”. In reality it is the cholesterol that is being transported from the liver to all of the body cells, which utilize it to replace the aging membranes that envelop the cells. What is important to know is that sugar and starchy foods (pasta, cakes, cookies, noodles, white rice, potatoes, pizza, muffins etc.) lead to a surge of blood sugar, which stimulates the liver to produce more LDL cholesterol. Any excess sugar in the blood will oxidize the LDL cholesterol, which leads to accelerated hardening of the arteries.

3. Low HDL cholesterol: HDL is the type of cholesterol that is transported from the cells back to the liver. Any oxidized LDL cholesterol is also mopped up by HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol has been dubbed the “good cholesterol”. It is important that LDL and HDL cholesterol are balanced. It is noteworthy that HDL cholesterol is much higher in athletes and those who exercise on a regular basis (like 5 to 7 times per week). This means that there is a surplus of the protective HDL cholesterol, which prevents hardening of the arteries.

4. Oxidized LDL: As explained above sugar and starchy foods oxidize cholesterol, so does radiation. A Mediterranean diet including olive oil will stabilize your metabolism and protect LDL from being oxidized.

5. High blood sugar: In pre-diabetes and diabetes, the blood sugars are high, but they are normal in people with a normal metabolism. As explained before it is this scenario, which leads to oxidation of LDL cholesterol and accelerated hardening of arteries. This is the reason why diabetics have severe blood vessel disease with closure of major arteries like the one going to the legs. If arterial by-pass surgery is not feasible because of the severity, often a physician has no other choice but to amputate a lower leg.

6. Excess triglycerides: People with excessive weight have a change in metabolism called metabolic syndrome, where triglycerides are high. But diabetics also often have high triglyceride levels in their blood. This is an independent risk factor to develop hardening of the arteries.

7. Elevated C-reactive protein: Dr. Paul Ridker published a landmark study in 2002 where he concluded that the blood test C-reactive protein was a reliable indicator to identify people who were at risk of developing heart attack. It measures inflammation in the body. What is inflamed here is the lining of the arteries from oxidized LDL cholesterol. I hope you see a pattern. Some of these points are actually connected.

8. Low blood EPA/DHA: Essential fatty acids are not contained in processed foods. Instead the food industry puts omega-6-fatty acids into processed foods, as this is much cheaper and leads to a longer shelf life of the processed food products. Omega-6 fatty acids are the precursor for arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation, hardening of the arteries and arthritis. By introducing fish oil or wild salmon two or three times per week you can achieve a counter balance to omega-6-fatty acids. Our bodies want us to balance omega-6 fatty acids with omega-3.

9. Excess insulin: with type 2 diabetes there is a high fasting insulin level. This leads to inflammation of the blood vessel wall and triggers accelerated hardening of the arteries. It also causes the brain arteries to get narrowed, and as a result the brain develops Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s is now called “type 3 diabetes”. An overweight or obese person who cuts out sugar in the diet and exercises can often control excessive weight, lower insulin and normalize cognitive deficits.

10. Excess fibrinogen: Blood clotting factors are manufactured in your liver and this is balanced by fibrinolytic factors that circulate in the blood. In certain conditions like diabetes, or the metabolic syndrome too much fibrinogen is produced. This can lead to blood clots.

11. Excess homocysteine: Some people are born with gene defects that program our cells to run abnormal biochemical reactions in our cells. Correct methylation pathways are important for normal cell function. However, if there is a methylation defect, abnormalities set in and homocysteine accumulates. As we age, there is also a weakening of certain enzymes that are involved in the methylation pathway. With any of these enzyme defects you need to use appropriate supplements to normalize this metabolic defect. Vitamin B2, B6 and B12 supplementation will often stabilize methylation defects and homocysteine levels return to normal. Methyl folate 1 mg per day is also very useful. Some people in older age cannot metabolize folate very well. This is important as severe, familial cardiovascular disease, where people often suffer heart attacks during the best years in their lives, can be postponed this way by several years or decades.

12. High blood pressure: Many people are not aware that high blood pressure is a disease where the linings of the arteries are inflamed and there is too little production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a signaling substance contained in many vegetables, particularly in red beets. Nitric oxide is the body’s tool to keep blood pressure normal by widening the diameter of arteries. High blood pressure leads to accelerated hardening of the arteries, because the oxidized LDL cholesterol gets deposited right under the diseased lining of the arteries. Just lowering the blood pressure with medications will not remove the other risk factors; they have to be addressed separately. The DASH diet has been developed to assist in lowering elevated blood pressure.

13. Low nitric oxide: Too much sugar and starch in one’s diet cause oxidation of LDL cholesterol as explained and this causes a dysfunction of the lining of the arteries resulting in less production of NO (nitric oxide). The lack of nitric oxide causes constriction in the arteries throughout the body, which will in turn elevate the blood pressure. Exercise will also lead to more nitric oxide production, but the right diet is the other factor. There is a supplement you can buy, called NEO-40 (one or two per day can be taken as a supplement, available on Amazon in the US, in health food stores in Canada). But make no mistake: it’s not about supplements; it is about the proper diet and lifestyle!

14. Vitamin D3 deficiency: I have blogged about the importance of vitamin D3 before. Vitamin D3 is now considered to be a hormone, as all cells have receptors for this molecule. It has anti-inflammatory qualities. It helps in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

15. Low vitamin K2: In this blog I have explained that vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 co-operate in removing calcium from the blood and transporting it into the bone. This way they both help in the prevention of osteoporosis. A co-factor in the prevention of osteoporosis is estrogen in women and testosterone in men.

16. Low free testosterone: Low free testosterone has been established as an independent risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. In the man there are a lot of testosterone receptors located in the heart and in the brain; this explains why with a lack of testosterone there is not only erectile dysfunction, but also the risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke.

17. Excess estrogen: When a woman approaches menopause, her menstrual cycles can become irregular due to the fact that there are anovulatory cycles, and the progesterone production is starting to slow down. This hormonal state is called estrogen dominance, because estrogen dominates over progesterone. In other words, the ratio of progesterone over estrogen is less than 200 to 1 (progesterone/estrogen ratio) when saliva hormone levels are measured. This is a risk factor for hardening of the arteries. In males with a “beer belly” there is too much estrogen floating around due to an enzyme in fatty tissue, called aromatase. This enzyme manufactures estrogen out of testosterone and contributes along with other factors to causing heart attacks in that scenario.

How can we protect ourselves from these factors?

As already indicated above, there are lifestyle issues that need to be addressed as follows.

  1. First adopt a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, which includes olive oil. No sugar, no bread, pasta, potatoes, and go extremely easy on certain fruit that is high in sugar, such as dried fruit, mango, bananas and grapes, because we do not want to oxidize our LDL cholesterol for reasons explained already.
  2. Exercise regularly. If you like, go to a gym (my wife and I do this regularly). If you are insecure, ask a trainer initially to guide you through the exercise equipment. It really is not that difficult to do. You develop a routine that is good for you. Alternatively, you may want to go for a brisk walk, run or participate in dancing. If you get easily bored, rotate the activities, but do not skip days, let alone weeks! Remember that your heart works 24/7!
  3. Take some vitamins and supplements: Vitamin B2, B6, B12 and methyl folate were mentioned before. Take vitamin D3 in a good dose like 5000 IU per day or more and vitamin K2 200 micrograms per day. Omega-3 supplements (EPA/DHA) are very useful to keep inflammation under control. For more on vitamins and supplements follow this link.
  1. Have your hormones checked. Some doctors do not feel comfortable about this; maybe you want to see a naturopath about it instead. Your body needs the hormone receptors satisfied by adequate bioidentical hormone levels; otherwise you age prematurely and give up body functions that you would rather keep. Normal hormone levels prevent osteoporosis, premature hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer’s, erectile dysfunction and premature wrinkles.
Seventeen Causes Of Blood Vessel Disease

Seventeen Causes Of Blood Vessel Disease

Conclusion

All of these 17 factors explained above are independent risk factors for developing hardening of the arteries, which affect mainly the heart, brain and kidneys. All you need is one of these factors, and you could develop a heart attack, stroke or kidney failure. You have no problem accepting a preventative maintenance program for your car. Think of having appropriate tests at least once a year done through your doctor. There are blood tests available to monitor hormone and vitamin levels, as well as C-reactive protein and homocysteine levels. Here are also three tests that will assess your heart function.

Your doctor may not order the tests spontaneously. Ask for it!

More info about heart attack prevention: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/heart-attack-myocardial-infarction-or-mi/prevention-heart-attack/

More info about stroke prevention: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/stroke-and-brain-aneurysm/stroke-prevention/

More on arteriosclerosis (blood vessel disease):http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/atherosclerosis-the-missing-link-between-strokes-and-heart-attacks/

Jun
13
2015

Preserving Our Energy

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

Mitochondria are power packs of energy

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

Get enough sleep

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

Exercise regularly

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

Manage stress

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

Lifestyle

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

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

Keep the arteries open

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

Get rid of inflammation

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

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

Preserve your immune system

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

Balance your hormones

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

Organic, GMO free food

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

Treat depression and mental disease

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

Positive thinking

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

Preserving Our Energy

Preserving Our Energy

What can we do to prevent aging?

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

References:

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

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

Jun
06
2015

The “Macaroni And Cheese” Myth

There is hardly a child that did not go through the macaroni and cheese phase. Now the maker of the Kraft’s dinner is in the news for their plan of removing artificial coloring and artificial flavors. This in itself is a positive step in the right direction. Although Kraft’s is painting the positive image of being concerned about the food quality for children, I think that the trigger for the change lies in the downward spiral of the sales of junk foods. Kraft’s is not alone with this. McDonald’s has been in the news having to close down franchises and losing business to Chipotle.

Chipotle has a slogan: “whole or nothing”, meaning whole foods, no antibiotics in their meats, everything fresh.

There also has been pressure from the informed consumer. Kraft’s probably responded to the Change.org petition where 365,000 signatures were collected asking Kraft’s to remove dyes from macaroni and cheese.

Kraft did some research and found that it was indeed possible to keep the taste the same, while improving food quality by replacing food coloring with paprika, annatto and turmeric.

Food value of macaroni and cheese

So, let’s assume that this switch will be successful, which itself is positive. But what are kids actually eating? Are noodles (essentially a form of pasta) and processed cheese healthy? What about missing protein, vitamins, vegetables and lettuce?

Macaroni

I have explained before that starchy food is essentially the same as sugar. Would you say that sugar is healthy? No, because it oxidizes LDL cholesterol causing hardening of arteries leading to inflammation in the body and causing the pancreas to produce a whole load of insulin leading to hyperinsulinism with reactive hypoglycemia. This also undermines adrenal gland function causing adrenal fatigue.

Cheese

Since 1993 it is legal for the dairy industry in the US to use bovine growth hormone from Monsanto. And, yes, it is contained in processed cheese that finds its way into the cheese portion of macaroni and cheese. In Canada or Europe cheese does not contain bovine growth hormone, as it is illegal.

Here is a link that states that bovine growth hormone from dairy in the US is one of the causes of breast cancer. Now the Kraft’s macaroni and cheese story takes on a completely different twist: the longer you are exposed to this weak carcinogenic effect of cheese (due to rBGH or rBST) the higher the likelihood of developing breast cancer in girls later in life. In boys a similar glandular tissue is the prostate gland and prostate cancer in older men is common. According to the American Cancer Society research has already shown a connection between rBGH/rBST and prostate cancer later in life. I find the increased risk of breast and prostate cancer in the US concerning. However, starchy foods (the macaroni part of macaroni and cheese) are known to cause cancer of any kind because of the insulin response. So, macaroni and cheese is not an appropriate, healthy food.

Missing vegetables and salad

We need the vitamins from vegetables and salads to counter any effect of the carcinogenic effects of macaroni and cheese. Don’t stop at the pasta aisle of the supermarket.

You will need to pick up some vegetables before you go home. Often kids are reluctant to consume vegetables. One alternative is to run green leaf vegetables through the blender, add an orange and a piece of banana for better flavor and offer it as a smoothie drink.

What does this do? It adds Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, folate, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Organic food

Despite the effort of changing macaroni and cheese and skipping artificial colors and flavoring substances, it does not measure up as a healthy food. Introduce new options that pack more flavor than any bland pasta product. Shop for organic food to avoid traces of pesticides and herbicides. Get used to the flavor of a Mediterranean diet without starchy foods or sugar. This diet has been associated with a long life and less disabilities in old age. So, replace the macaroni with a piece of chicken or lean grass-fed beef. Replace the cheese with vegetables. Buy an imported cheese (Parmigiano or cheddar, either organic or imported from Canada or a European country), which can be used over the vegetables. And –voila! – You got another meal, not macaroni and cheese!

The "Macaroni And Cheese" Myth

The “Macaroni And Cheese” Myth

Reasoning

It seems that concentrating solely on changing coloring and food additives, we lost our vision of what healthy food really is. We get so worked up about the old, familiar tastes, even calling it “comfort food”, that we do not care any more about the quality of our food. This should be something, which the consumer is entitled to have, and it should not be left to the maneuvering of the food industry. We need to take the control of our kitchen back into our own hands. Dr. Victoria Maizes, executive director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and a professor of medicine and public health, asked a simple question: “What’s wrong with Girl Scout cookies?” In this article she explains her concern about GMO, sugar and trans fats in the cookies Girl Scouts sell. She makes the link between cookie consumption and obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. You may not know all the intricacies of the human body, but whatever food you decide to swallow will decide which way your metabolism goes. Do you want to become hypoglycemic, diabetic or do you just want your metabolism to stay normal?

Conclusion

Macaroni and cheese is a topic that leads to a discussion of what quality nutrition should be in general. The gold standard is a Mediterranean diet, as this is associated with longevity. At the same time it is tasty. Adults need to be aware of the side effects of junk food that I mentioned above. Despite advertisements otherwise, macaroni and cheese is not a quality food as it is deficient in vital nutrients, such as quality protein, minerals and vitamins.

May
30
2015

Be Creative, Prevent Dementia

Here is a recent research finding from the Mayo Clinic that caught the media’s attention: be creative, and this will prevent dementia. The study found that when people engage in creative things they could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Dementia can be caused by a number of various causes. But the end result is that there is an inflammatory condition within the brain that leads to a loss of nerve cells and nerve cell connections. When brain cells and nerve cell connections are lost, memory fades, particularly in the frontal brain and in the hippocampus area.

The study

In an April 8, 2015 publication from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and Scottsdale , AZ 256 participants aged 85 years and older (median age 87.3 years, 62% women and 38% men) were followed for 4.1 years. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was measured using psychological tests. At the time of recruitment into the study all of the tests for MCI were normal. As the study progressed it became apparent that there were various risk factors that caused the onset of MCI, which is the immediate precursor of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. The finding was that the genetic marker APOE ε4 allele was associated with a risk of 1.89-fold to develop MCI and later Alzheimer’s disease. If there were current depressed symptoms present at the time of being enrolled into the study the risk of MCI development was 1.78-fold. Midlife onset of high blood pressure led to a 2.43-fold increase and a history of vascular diseases was associated with 1.13-fold higher MCI development. The good news was that four activities were associated with a lower risk to develop MCI with aging. When the person engaged in artistic activities in midlife or later in life the risk for MCI development was reduced by 73%, involvement in crafts reduced it by 45% and engagement in social activities by 55%. In a surprise finding the use of a computer late in life was associated with a 53% reduction in MCI development. These are very significant observations.

What we can learn from the study

When you get older it is important that you prepare yourself for an active retirement. You may want to enroll in dance classes, as this combines physical activity with brain activity where you have to remember learnt responses (from old moves you know) and also learn new dance moves (therefore creating new nerve cell connections). You could start a hobby where you create something (arts and crafts, painting etc.). Grandma Moses did this, and she not only became famous with her artwork, but she aged gracefully; she turned 101 years old).

The brain is an organ that needs to be treated with respect. We need to give it proper nutrition and avoid cardiovascular disease as it is known that whatever is good for the heart is good for the brain.

Eat a Mediterranean diet and avoid junk foods including processed foods. If at all possible eat organic foods. Take your fish oil supplements (omega-3 and DHA), as the DHA will provide the material necessary to build up new brain cells. The omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for a healthy heart and healthy blood vessels.

Regular exercise will improve your brain circulation, even in old age. If you take the steps mentioned you will at the same time prevent arthritis from developing and by cutting out sugar and starchy foods your brain will stay sharper for longer. Nurses in care homes for Alzheimer’s patients have known for a long time that Alzheimer’s patients crave sugar and sweets. This leads to hyperinsulinism and Alzheimer’s disease. So let’s take the consequences and cut out sugar and sweets to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Apart from these physical factors that have been published in many medical journals we have now an additional tool in getting the aging persons involved in crafts: social activities like journal clubs, discussion groups, walking groups, bridge groups or religious gatherings that will stimulate the brain to form new circuits and buildup new memories. Artistic activities and learning the use of the computer are additional things that will reduce the risk of developing MCI and later dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Be Creative, Prevent Dementia

Be Creative, Prevent Dementia

Conclusion

As the baby boomers age and enter into the old age category these observations are very important. We should think about doing some of these things now, so we do not have to overcome inertness later. The worst you can do is to become a couch potato and watch TV all of the time. Watching other people doing sports activities does nothing for you unless you walk on a treadmill while you watch TV. I do not intend to be hard on you; I am just passing on these new research findings and practicing them myself. The final choice is up to you.

 

Reference:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/health/creativity-socializing-delay-dementia/index.html

 

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May
09
2015

Radiation From Fukushima Less Than Expected

I have blogged about the fallout from the Fukushima disaster in Japan before. At that time it appeared that the levels of radiation expected to be found on the West coast of North America around 2015 would likely be high. It did take all that time for the water with the radioactive contamination to arrive on the Western shores of North America.

The predictions were based on the known water currents in the Pacific Ocean and the amount of radioactive pollutants released. With that data it was extrapolated what would happen in the future. The future is here; we just heard about reports that the polluted water has arrived.

Direct measurements of the radioactivity of the nuclear isotope composition in the water showed that the concentration is much lower than previously assumed. So, you can swim in the ocean of the West Coast of the US and Canada and walk on the beach. The scientists who did the present calculations pointed out that an exposure to the radioactively contaminated water by swimming in the ocean for 6 hours for 7 days per week continuously for a period of one year would give you a radiation exposure 1000 times less than that of a dental X-ray. Here is a video that puts things into perspective (look at the video located on top of the page).

I highly recommend watching this. It sums up how the Fukushima disaster has affected marine life, but that the West coast of the US and Canada does not seem to be in danger of highly toxic levels of nuclear isotopes.

Why should we trust these measurements?

You may ask yourself: why should I trust these measurements? As pointed out in my previous blog, there were a number of radioactive elements released into the atmosphere and into the Pacific Ocean. Cesium-137 and Cesium-134 are both part of the Fukushima incident. They have now been measured to be present in higher than previous concentrations at the coast of British Columbia. Cesium-134 has a much shorter half-life and can therefore only come from Fukushima. But Cesium-137 that has a half-life of 30 years was also increased to a higher than previous level because of the Fukushima disaster. Underwater nuclear weapons tests in the 1940’s to early 1990 before the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was enacted caused the previous baseline of Cesium-137 levels in the ocean. Fortunately only about 25% to 30% of the original accumulated load of radioactivity was left before Fukushima added more Cesium-137. The other nucleotides Iodine-131, Plutonium-238 and 239, Strontium-89 and 90 and Uranium-234 and 238 are also helping scientists to sort out the contribution of radioactive pollution from Fukushima when compared to the baseline before.

Why it matters what you eat

You may think that you are completely safe now that we have such good news about radiation associated with the Fukushima disaster. Not quite so. Any source of radiation, which includes traveling by plane, getting mammograms in women, getting CT scans, lung X-rays, dental X-rays etc. has an effect on your system. It causes an inflammatory response, which is made worse by sugar and starchy foods. Sugar and starchy foods have been known for some time to oxidize LDL cholesterol, which in turn causes inflammation in your arteries and travels through your whole body including your brain. Even Alzheimer’s disease is an inflammatory brain disease, partially caused by overconsumption of sugar and starchy foods. Now add to this radioactivity exposure, which causes a strong inflammatory process in your body from free radicals that circulate in your blood. As a result the problem with the background radiation being a bit higher than what it was before is also the oxidative stress from sugar and starchy foods causing more inflammation within the body. We need to remember that the victims of Nagasaki, Japan were the ones that did not follow the dietary advise of Dr. Akizuki. He had ordered a strict vegetarian diet, which consisted of uncontaminated brown rice, fermented foods, sea algae and vegetables. Dr. Akizuki did not allow sweets of any kind. Salt was allowed as the main condiment. Everybody was fed at least one helping of a soup with fermented soy and seaweed in it (wakame miso soup).

It was this regimen that helped tone down inflammation in the body. It countered the negative effects of the radiation of the atom bomb.

Other causes of radiation

We are exposed to the leftover of 25% of the nuclear experiments from the nuclear bomb testing (the Leftover radioactive Cesium-137 mentioned above). In addition background radiation from sunbursts and cosmic radiation have to be absorbed by our system. As the radiation fuels inflammation, we cannot afford to continue to indulge in sugar and starchy foods that lead to hyperinsulinism, inflammation and oxidation of LDL cholesterol. If we cast all caution to the wind, we will get degenerative diseases like arthritis, inflammation of the lining of the arteries leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Obesity and diabetes will also undermine our health. All of this leads to disabilities and premature deaths.

Radiation From Fukushima Less Than Expected

Radiation From Fukushima Less Than Expected

Conclusion

I am glad that the Fukushima news are a lot better than anticipated for the West Coast of the US and Canada. However, we should not forget that, like the burden of radiation, certain foods (sugar, high fructose corn syrup and starch) also cause inflammation in our system. We need to remember how effective Dr. Akizuki’s diet was back in 1945 protecting those who were in immediate proximity to the atom bomb in Japan.

Today we should consume a Mediterranean diet, which is also full of antioxidants and is thought of to be anti-inflammatory.

We can also take antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, glutathione, fish oil and others that will protect us from anything that oxidizes LDL cholesterol or produces free radicals. Common sense needs to prevail. Radiation is a burden that fuels inflammation in our bodies, but dietary measures can greatly contribute to keeping us out of trouble. Vitamin supplements in general help with their anti-oxidant effects to protect your vital organs (heart, kidneys, brain, lungs, liver, bone marrow). I have discussed this in detail under this link. Note that I am recommending Io-Plex SR, which is an iodine supplement to be taken twice per day to protect you from fluoride, bromide and chlorine pollution. It will also protect the iodine receptors in your body from traces of radioactive salts in fish, sea water and the environment.