Aug
08
2020

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group stated that poor diets threaten Americans and cause diseases. More than 500,000 people in the US are dying every year because of poor nutrition. 46% of adults have unhealthy diets; but children have even more, namely 56%. In 1979 the US healthcare cost was 6.9% of the gross domestic product. Compare this to 2018 when the US healthcare cost was 17.7% of the gross domestic product.

The Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group states: “Poor diets lead to a harsh cycle of lower academic achievement in school, lost productivity at work, increased chronic disease risk, increased out-of-pocket health costs, and poverty for the most vulnerable Americans.”

You can improve your diet quality 

When you start cutting out junk food and other processed foods, the quality of your food intake is improving. Eat more vegetables, and fruit. Eat wild salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Do not consume vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grapeseed oil. They all contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and they convert mainly into energy. But the problem is that our western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can convert into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other. Use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil instead for cooking and on salads.

How does poor quality food affect your health?

Researchers are aware of trans fats causing Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes for a long time. They increase the bad LDL cholesterol, decrease the good HDL cholesterol. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. The FDA has started to initiate steps in 2015 to make the use of trans-fats in the food industry illegal. Completion of this in the US occurs in early 2020.

Japanese trans-fat study (Alzheimer’s disease)

This Japanese study followed 1,628 Japanese community residents (men and women) for about 10 years. Researchers used the typical trans fatty acid, elaidic acid to monitor the accumulation of trans fats in patients. This is possible with a simple blood test, which serves as a marker for industrial trans fats. 377 participants developed dementia (247 Alzheimer’s disease and 102 vascular dementia). Based on the blood elaidic acid levels earlier in the study individuals with higher trans-fat levels were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the study progressed. Patients whose trans-fat blood levels were in the higher range were 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits. Note that it is not only your dietary habits that determine this, but in addition, several lifestyle factors.

Cardiovascular disease

Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack. It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

Cancer

90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking. Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, consuming too much alcohol causes cancer of the colon and rectum in both sexes.

Diabetes

There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

Chronic diseases

Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into your system and adds to chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

Conclusion

A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group has been formed, which noted that many Americans follow very poor diets. 46% of adults in the US have unhealthy diets; but children have even more poor diets, namely 56%. This is of concern, because in time this causes a variety of diseases discussed here. Instead of just treating the symptoms of these diseases, it is important to improve the diet people are on, which prevents the development of these diseases. A well-balanced diet not only prevents diseases, it also leads to longevity and healthy aging without Alzheimer’s disease. Take care of what you eat, and be sure it is healthy!

Part of this text was published before here.

Jul
25
2020

The Immune System Changes With Age

When we are young, we do not think about our immune system, but the immune system changes with age. When we are older than age 60, we notice that we may be taking longer to recover from a flu.

How does the immune system work?

There are two parts to the immune system, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system works to protect us from bacteria, viruses, toxins and fungi from the time we are born. The adaptive immune system uses B lymphocytes from the bone marrow to produce antibodies against viruses. This provides often lifelong immunity against this specific virus, but takes 3 to 5 days to kick in. Vaccinations can also trigger antibody production to protect us from viruses in the future. Both the adaptive and the innate immune system work together closely.

What are the ingredients for a fully functioning immune system?

The immune system consists of various immune organs that are distributed throughout the body. The bone marrow produces lymphocytes, granulocytes, macrophages, eosinophils and basophils. The adenoids in the back of the nasal passages and the tonsils in the back of the throat contain a lot of lymphocytes that are ready to protect us from colds and flus. We have lymph nodes throughout the body and they are connected with lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes filter the lymph fluid that travels in the lymphatic vessels.

Other sites of lymphocyte production

The small intestine contains the Peyer’s patches, a collection of lymphocytes that protect our gut from invading bacteria or viruses. The spleen is located in the left abdominal cavity under the diaphragm. It removes old red blood cells and provides lymphocytes for the immune system. The thymus gland is located between the breast bone and the trachea. It changes bone marrow derived lymphocytes (B cells) into T lymphocytes that can process antigens from viruses and pass them on to the adaptive immune system for a full antibody response.

Cellular interactions between various players of the immune system

Back in the 1970’s it was already known that there were bone marrow derived B lymphocytes and thymus processed T lymphocytes. We knew then that B cells were involved in antibody production (adaptive immunity). T lymphocytes were thought to turn into killer T lymphocytes to kill cancer cells. But some T cells were T helper cells to process antigen and present it to B lymphocytes for antibody production.

More research since then refined what we know about the cells of the immune system.

Natural killer cells (NK cells)

Natural killer cells (NK cells) are part of the innate immune system. They attack cancer cells and cells that are infected by viruses. It takes about 3 days for their full action to develop. NK cells utilize the cell surface histocompatibility complex to decide whether to destroy a cell or not. T cell lymphocytes do not have the ability to do that. In the Covid-19 coronavirus situation NK cells play an important role to combat the disease right away.

Monocytes

They are large white blood cells that can differentiate further into macrophages and dendritic cells. Monocytes are part of the innate immunity, but they have an antigen presenting capability, which makes them also part of the adaptive immunity.

Memory T cells

The immune system learns to adapt to viruses and bacteria that we have come in contact with. The reason for the memory of the immune cells are the memory T cells. They replicate like stem cells, which keeps a clone of T lymphocytes, T helper cells and cytotoxic T killer cells in the background. They circulate through the body including the lymph glands and the spleen.

Immunosenescence as we age

There are several factors that come together, which age our immune system. The term for this is “immunosenescence“. There are genetic differences and differences due to the sex hormones. Estrogens increase the response of the immune system. In contrast, progesterone and androgens (including testosterone) decrease the immune response. This may be the reason why women tend to live longer than men.

As we age there are more and more memory T cells (both cytotoxic T cells and T helper cells). This weakens the formation of the natural killer cells (NK cells) of the innate immune system. Even the initiation of the adaptive immune system can be slower when we age and also the response to the flu vaccine. In addition, this can pave the way to autoimmune diseases.

The immune system changes with age: Evidence of immunosenescence

The following 3 factors show whether a person has immunosenescence:

  • The immune system has difficulties to respond to new viruses/bacteria or to vaccines
  • Accumulation of memory T cells crowding out cells of the rest of the immune system
  • Low-grade inflammation that is chronic and persists (“inflamm-aging”)

The process of immunosenescence starts with the involution of the thymus gland around the time of puberty. At that time the sex hormone secretion is highest. At the same time a growth factor from the bone marrow and the thymus gland decreases. It has the name interleukin-7 (IL-7). The end result is a slow decrease of the innate immune system with age and a more substantial weakening of the adaptive immune system due to a lack of naïve T and B cells. 

Chronic viruses can weaken the immune system further

The varicella herpes zoster virus causes chickenpox. In some people the chickenpox virus can persist, but the immune system actively keeps it controlled. In the 60’s or 70’s when the immune system is weakened from aging, there can be a flare-up as shingles, a localized form of the chickenpox virus.

Another virus, the human cytomegalovirus can cause a chronic infection that often persists lifelong. In this case the immune system is chronically weakened because of a massive accumulation of T memory cells, which keeps the human cytomegalovirus infection at bay.

What we need when the immune system changes with age 

Vitamin A

Both the innate and adaptive immunity depend on vitamin A and its metabolites. The skin cells and mucosal cells function as a barrier, which is important for the innate immunity. The skin/mucosal lining of the eye, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts help the innate immunity to keep viruses and bacteria out of the body. Vitamin A is important to support macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer (NK) cells. In addition, vitamin A supports the adaptive immune system, namely T and B lymphocytes, so that the body can produce specific antibodies against viruses.

I do not take vitamin A supplements as I eat diversified foods like spinach, vegetables, poultry, Brussels sprout, fish and dairy products that contain vitamin A and carotenoids.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant. It can neutralize reactive oxygen species, which are produced when the immune cells fight viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes are all supported by vitamin C. Vitamin C and E co-operate in their antioxidant functions. Vitamin C is essential for a strong antibody response with bacterial or viral infections. I take 1000 mg of vitamin C once daily.

Vitamin D

The immune system is very dependent on vitamin D as the immune cells all contain vitamin D receptors. People who have less than 10 ng/mL of vitamin D in the blood are vitamin D deficient. They have much higher death rates when they get infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Vitamin D regulates the expression of target genes. At the center is the vitamin D receptor, which is a nuclear transcription factor. Together with the retinoic X receptor (from vitamin A) the vitamin D receptor binds small sequences of DNA. They have the name “vitamin D response elements” and are capable of initiating a cascade of molecular interactions. The result is a modulation of specific genes. Researchers identified thousands of vitamin D response elements that regulate between 100 and 1250 genes.

You need enough vitamin D for your immune system

When enough vitamin D is present in the blood (more than 30 ng/mL) the immune system releases the peptides cathelicidins and defensins, which effectively destroy bacteria and viruses.

Vitamin D has mainly an inhibitory function regarding adaptive immunity. It inhibits antibody production from B cells and also dampens the effect of T cells. Researchers reported that vitamin D3 is useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

I am a slow absorber of vitamin D3 as repeat blood vitamin D levels showed. I need 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to get a blood level of 50-80 ng/mL (=125-200 nmol/L). This is the higher range of normal. Everybody is different. Ask your physician to check your blood level of vitamin D. Toxic vitamin D blood levels are only starting above 150 ng/mL (= 375 nmol/L).

Vitamin E

This is a vitamin that is fat soluble and helps the body to maintain its cell membranes. But researchers found that vitamin E also stimulates the T cell-mediated immune response. This is particularly important for the aging person to prevent respiratory tract infections. I take 125 mg of Annatto tocotrienols per day (this is the most potent form of vitamin E).

Vitamin B6

This vitamin is important for antibody production by B cells. Vitamin B6 regulates the metabolism of amino acids, which in turn form proteins. Antibodies and cytokines require vitamin B6. The T helper immune cells that initiate an adaptive immune response depend on vitamin B6 as well. I take a multi B complex vitamin (Mega B 50) twice per day, so I supplement with a total of 100 mg of vitamin B6 daily.

Folate

Folic acid is a coenzyme for the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Studies in humans and animals have shown that folate deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infections. People with folate deficiency develop a megaloblastic anemia with immune weakness that leads to chronic infections. With my B complex supplement I get 2 mg of folic acid daily.

Vitamin B12

Methylation pathways depend on vitamin B12 as a coenzyme. Vitamin B12 is also involved as a coenzyme in the production of energy from fats and proteins. In addition, hemoglobin synthesis depends on vitamin B12. Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency develop pernicious anemia. These patients also have a weak immune system due to natural killer cell activity suppression and because circulating lymphocyte numbers are significantly decreased.

Treatment with cyanocobalamin reverses the immune weakness rapidly and treats pernicious anemia at the same time. I take 50 micrograms twice per day as part of the Mega-B50 multivitamin tablet. But I also inject 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 every 6 months subcutaneously to be sure it is absorbed into the body. In older age the intrinsic factor from the stomach lining, which is required for absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine, can be missing, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency despite swallowing supplements.

Minerals required for a good immune response

Researchers identified five minerals that are essential for a strong immune system. They are zinc, iron, selenium, copper and magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is important for a normal function of the innate and adaptive immune system. As zinc cannot be stored in the body, taking regular zinc supplements (30 to 50 mg daily) is important. I take 50 mg of amino acid chelated zinc daily.

Iron

Iron is important for cell oxygen transport and storage, DNA synthesis and for mounting an effective immune response. In particular it is the T cell differentiation and proliferation where iron is needed. Iron deficient people get a lot of infections because the immune system is paralyzed. I eat one spinach salad or steamed spinach daily, which gives me enough iron supply per day.

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that is important for a normal immune response and for cancer prevention. When selenium is missing, both the adaptive and innate immune system are suffering. In this case viruses are more virulent. With selenium supplementation cell-mediated immunity is improved and the immune response to viruses is more potent. I take 200 micrograms of selenium per day.

Copper

Deficiency in copper results in a very low neutrophil blood count and causes susceptibility to infections. Copper is a trace mineral that participates in several enzymatic reactions. It is important for the innate immune response to bacterial infections. A well-balanced Mediterranean diet contains enough copper, which is why I do not supplement with extra copper.

Magnesium

An important cofactor for vitamin D in the body is magnesium. Magnesium participates in many enzymatic reactions. Between vitamin D and magnesium, the immune system is strengthened. I take 150 mg of magnesium citrate twice per day. By the way, magnesium also helps us to get a restful sleep, if we take it at bedtime.

Other dietary factors that strengthen the immune system

Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body and help to modulate the immune system. I take 1800 mg of omega-3 (EPA/DHA) twice per day. I also like to eat fish and seafood at least 3 times per week.

Probiotics benefit both the innate and the adaptive immune system. They strengthen the epithelial gut barrier, which is an important innate immune defence. Probiotics also lower the risk for Clostridium difficile gut infections. I take one probiotic every morning.

The Immune System Changes With Age

The Immune System Changes With Age

Conclusion

The immune system consists of different organs like the bone marrow, the spleen, lymph glands, Peyer’s patches in the gut, the thymus gland and more. There is the innate immune system, which responds immediately to a virus like the Covid-19 coronavirus. The adaptive immune response involves antibody production against, for instance, the measle virus or the mumps virus. With the aging process the immune system slows down (immunosenescence). This involves an accumulation of memory T cells and a depletion of natural killer cells (NK cells). This means that the innate immunity is getting weaker as we age and chronic inflammation occurs more often. This is the reason why people above the age of 65 get more severe symptoms from the Covid-19 coronavirus. They are also more affected by influenza-type illnesses.

Take supplements to strengthen the immune system

I reviewed the cofactors of a healthy immune system in some detail. It is important that you pay attention to these, particularly the vitamin D3 intake. With a strong immune system, we can survive viral infections better, including the current Covid-19 coronavirus. Future research will likely detect how to reactivate a sluggish immune system in older people. This way vaccination responses following flu injections will become more reliable in seniors.

Jul
11
2020

Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

A new study showed that fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk. This study was reviewed here.

The article is based on the June 10, 2020 publication of the British Medical Journal.

They did large population studies showing that obesity is an independent risk factor for severe disease and death from Covid-19. One study with 428,225 participants had 340 admitted to hospital with confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus. 44% of them were overweight and 34% were obese. Another study, the OpenSAFELY study used linked electronic health records. 17,425, 445 participants were included and 5,683 Covid-19 deaths occurred. In this study there were 29% overweight and 33% obese persons. The researchers noted a dose-response relationship between excess weight and severity of Covid-19. The researchers removed confounding factors like age, sex, ethnicity, and social deprivation.

Critical illness and death rates in overweight and obese people

They realized that critical illness caused by Covid-19 was increased compared to normal-weight people as follows.

  • Covid-19 risk 44% higher in overweight people
  • Covid-19 risk 97% higher in people with obesity

This means that the risk for serious illness from Covid-19 was 1.44-fold for overweight persons and 1.97-fold for obese persons compared to normal-weight controls. The OpenSAFELY study also looked at the death rates from Covid-19 for people with obesity. Two obesity categories were investigated: obesity with a BMI of 30-34.9 and BMI of greater than 40 compared to normal-weight controls. Here are the death rates.

  • BMI of 30-34.9: 1.27-fold increased risk
  • BMI of greater than 40: 2.27-fold risk

Possible mechanisms explaining fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk

The researchers mentioned three possible mechanisms why overweight and obese people may have higher Covid-19 disease and death rates than normal-weight controls.

First, angiotensin converting enzyme-2 is found with higher frequency in fat cells of overweight and obese persons. Researchers are aware of the fact that the Covid-19 coronavirus uses this enzyme to enter body cells. It may also be the reason that fat cells become reservoirs that can shed virus for much longer than in normal-weight people with less fat cells. They pointed out that others have seen this also and found it with other viruses. In the case of influenza A, obesity prolonged viral shedding by 42% compared to normal-weight controls. And with H1N1 influenza obesity was an independent risk factor for hospitalization and death.

Weaker immune system, more lung resistance

Secondly, any virus can weaken the host’s defence of the immune system. Researchers showed this previously with the influenza virus. But now with Covid-19 coronavirus the cytokine storm due to a weak immune system is a major factor in making the viral infection worse. A lack of vitamin D is another factor in promoting the cytokine storm.

Third, obesity decreases lung function and it is difficult to improve this. There is greater lung resistance in the airways and it is difficult to expand the lungs in obese patients. When the doctor transfers patients with obesity to the intensive care unit, it is more difficult to increase their oxygen saturation with artificial ventilation.

Unhealthy environment, so fat deposits mean higher Covid-19 risk

The researchers point out that we live in a very unhealthy environment. In 2016 there were 1.9 billion people worldwide who were overweight or obese. These figures are rapidly rising. Presently about 65% to 70% are overweight or obese in the UK or the US. Obesity causes high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and cancer. We are all surrounded by processed food with extra salt, sugar, wheat and other unhealthy ingredients. The high mortality and deaths rates of Covid-19 in overweight and obese people point to the problem that society has.

Reduce salt, sugar and saturated fats in food

The culprits are salt, sugar and saturated fats. Merchants and food producers must reduce them in processed food. In the UK new government regulations have already resulted in lower salt content in foods. As a result, there is less high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is in decline. All nations need to reduce salt, sugar, and saturated fat. When the weight comes down, we all are less prone to catching dangerous viruses.

Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

Fat Deposits Mean Higher Covid-19 Risk

Conclusion

The pandemic has taught us a new lesson, namely that overweight and obese people are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 coronavirus. In a research paper of the British Medical Journal concrete figures showed that the Covid-19 risk is 44% higher in overweight people and that it is 97% higher in people with obesity. The OpenSAFELY study also showed that obese people with a BMI of 30-34.9 have a 1.27-fold increased risk of catching Covid-19. But morbidly obese people with a BMI of greater than 40 have a 2.27-fold risk of catching Covid-19. There is a clear linear dose-response curve between the amount of fat a person accumulates and the risk for Covid-19.

Cut out junk food and decrease your risk for Covid-19

Covid-19 is directly related to the amount of junk food we eat. As a result we can say that eating junk food increases the Covid-19 risk. The opposite is true also: sensible eating and cutting out junk food makes you lose some pounds, and your risk for Covid-19 decreases.

May
16
2020

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

A Jan. 8, 2020 study stated that cutting out bad lifestyle habits increases life expectancy. It was a publication in the British Medical Journal by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The senior author of the study was Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School. The researchers looked at data collected from a large group of males and females that had been accumulated for 34 years. They found that a 50-year-old male or female who did not change their lifestyle habits had another 25.5 years to live for males and another 29 years to live for females.

Five bad lifestyles and life expectancy 

The 5 bad lifestyle habits were smoking, a body mass index above 25.0, excessive alcohol intake, less than 30 minutes of exercise per day and an unhealthy diet.

When people cut out all of those risky lifestyles, 50-year-old men and women had a life expectancy of 37.6 years for men and 43.1 years for women. This was an addition of 12 years of healthy life for men compared to controls who did not change their lifestyles. With regard to women there was an addition of 14 years of life compared to controls.

Diseases that kill prematurely

The research team wanted to know what diseases caused the most reduction in life expectancy when people did not change their bad lifestyle habits. Men and women who cut out all negative lifestyle habits were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. They also were 65% less likely to die from cancer. Bad lifestyles caused the two major diseases, cardiovascular disease (heart attack and strokes) and cancer, which increased overall mortality. The overall study time was about 30 years. The third major disease that can cost lives is diabetes. In addition, the research team identified chronic diseases as being another potential cause of people dying prematurely.

Additional life expectancy

When life expectancies were broken down according to diseases, the following was noticed.

For men:

When cancer free    When free of heart issues   Without diabetes

6 more years             9 more years                         10 more years

For women:

When cancer free    When free of heart issues   Without diabetes

8 more years            10 more years                       12 more years

Dr. Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said: ”We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free”. Those who do not shed their bad lifestyle habits will come down with one or more of the mentioned diseases and die prematurely. Others who cut out all their bad lifestyle choices live substantially longer.

Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits.

Cardiovascular disease

Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack.

It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

Cancer

90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking.

Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, cancer of the colon and rectum are also caused by consuming too much alcohol in both sexes.

Diabetes

There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

Chronic diseases

Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into the system and adds to the chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

Conclusion

Bad lifestyle habits are what causes us to get illnesses and die prematurely. Functional medicine and anti-aging medicine are at the frontier of modern medicine. These specialties are teaching us how to stay well and age gracefully. For decades conventional medicine has treated only symptoms, but not the causes of diseases. But this has not changed the mortality rates of heart attacks and cancer. Smoking, a body mass index above 25.0, excessive alcohol intake, exercising less than 30 minutes of exercise per day and an unhealthy diet are causes that make us sick. These bad lifestyle factors cause chronic inflammation in our system. They are the real cause of heart attacks, strokes, cancer and diabetes, the major killer diseases that prevent healthy aging.

Facing bad lifestyle habits

Bad lifestyle habits cause chronic inflammation. T he C-reactive protein blood test can measure the degree of inflammation that is present. A fasting insulin level can detect whether a person is in danger of developing diabetes and improved lifestyle habits can prevent this from happening. Men can add 12 years and women 14 years of healthy life by eliminating bad lifestyle habits. By eliminating chronic inflammation our new life expectancy, which is 79 to 80 years, now can reach 92 to 94 years. It is up to you how healthy you stay and whether or not you age gracefully.

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Apr
25
2020

Exosomes can Regenerate Your Stem Cells

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

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

Advantages of administering exosomes

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

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

Applications of exosomes for various clinical conditions

Joint inflammation

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

Disc degeneration  

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

Aging research

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

Longevity comes from good lifestyles

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

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

Clinical diseases from aging

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

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

Oxidative stress as a cause of premature aging

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

Antioxidants help to prevent diseases

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

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

Causation of several diseases

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

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

There are more diseases

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

Preventative measures for slowing the aging process

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

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

How to live longer

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

Intravenous infusions of exosomes

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

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

Contraindication to the use of stem cells or exosome therapy

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

Exosomes can Regenerate Your Stem Cells

Exosomes can Regenerate Your Stem Cells

Conclusion

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

Expensive exosome infusions

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

Mar
07
2020

Eat Right for a Long Life

Dr. Felice Gersh gave a talk at a conference in Las Vegas stressing the importance to eat right for a long life. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. The actual title of her presentation was “Nutrition for Longevity”.
Dr. Gersh has a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine.

In the first place she pointed out that an anti-inflammatory diet consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy oils like olive oil and fish. This is a modified Mediterranean diet. On the other hand, with a pro-inflammatory diet or Western diet, you eat high fat, cholesterol, lots of protein from red beef, high sugar, excessive salt and a lot of processed and fast-food.

Prevention of diseases

It is important to realize that for prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative diseases you need to eat fruits and vegetables, which contain important phytochemicals. They contain a wide variety of molecules, like carotenoids, vitamins and polyphenols. Another key point is that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale) contain glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds. They protect you from cancer.

Vitamins and magnesium

It must be remembered that in order to strengthen the immune system and prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) we need the following: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the enzyme Co-Q10, vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, carotenoids, phytosterols, stilbenes and flavonoids. Another key point is that magnesium is extremely important. Many of our dietary habits have reduced magnesium intake to a minimum. Our soils are depleted of magnesium, it is no longer in drinking water, and it is absent in processed foods. However, magnesium is involved as a co-factor in more than 700 enzymatic reactions in our bodies. Magnesium is involved in heart contractions, is important to maintain our blood pressure and is important for glycemic control. It is also important for bone development and for DNA and RNA synthesis. Magnesium binds serotonin and dopamine to their receptors and plays a role in many more body functions.

Brassica vegetables

This group of vegetables consists of broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Notably, they have long been recognized to lower the risk of many cancers. The first thing to remember is that the active ingredients in them are glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Certainly, food preparation has a lot of influence on maintaining beneficial substances in the brassica vegetables. To emphasize, finely shredded vegetables had a marked decline of their glucosinolate levels by 75% within only 6 hours. On the negative side, microwave cooking destroys 74% of glucosinolates, but on the positive side, storage in room air preserves almost all of the glucosinolates for 1 week. In addition, stir frying brassica also preserves the glucosinolates. This reference points out how fruit and vegetables can contribute to cancer prevention.

The gut microbiome

The Western diet leads to a change in the gut flora with Gram-negative bacteria taking over the healthy gut flora and disrupting the intestinal barrier. To emphasize, this result is called endotoxemia. Part of this is increased serum endotoxin, which mainly consists of lipopolysaccharides. Indeed, it causes gut inflammation and a breakdown of the gut barrier. When this happens, autoimmune antibodies are produced. To put it another way, the Western diet undermines your health. In a word, high fat foods and added sugars (refined carbohydrates) lead to increased Gram-negative bacteria and the disruption of the intestinal barrier.

An unhealthy diet causes disease

In the long run this causes autoimmune diseases, leads to higher heart attack rates and to diabetes. Healthy gut bacteria in fact help to digest fibre, which leads to three short-chain fatty acids: butyrate, acetate and propionate. For the most part, they are important as energy source, affect cardiometabolic health and appetite. On balance, butyrate also helps to maintain the blood brain barrier.

Importance of fiber

Higher fiber content in food leads to less cardiovascular disease, has positive effects on obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Fiber changes the microbiome in the gut, leads to less gut permeability and more short-chain fatty acids production.

The best diet

  • 60% to 70% complex carbohydrates are the foundation of a healthy diet. It consists of vegetables, green leafy and root vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains and fruit.
  • Eat healthy fats from nuts, olives, seeds, krill or fish oil. Limit fat intake to 18 to 28% of your daily calorie intake. Avoid hydrogenated fats. Limit your saturated fatty acid intake. 85% chocolate is OK. Otherwise consume olive oil and omega-3 fatty acid containing foods (from seafood and fish).
  • Add about 12% of the daily calorie consumption as protein per day. Choose fish, seafood, lean cuts of chicken, only the occasional red meat (organic or grass-fed meat)
  • Eat lots of fiber, eat organic and minimally processed food. Limit sugar, fat and salt. Avoid antibiotics from the agricultural industry, sweeteners, gluten and excessive alcohol intake. Take a daily probiotic and eat probiotic food. Eat three meals a day, a big breakfast, a moderately-sized lunch and a small dinner. A fasting mimicking diet once per month for 5 days activates your longevity genes.
Eat Right for a Long Life

Eat Right for a Long Life

Conclusion

Dr. Felice Gersh gave a talk at a conference in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. She said that we need to eat right for a long life. She gave a thorough outline of what to eat and what not to eat. It is important to note that she suggested to cut out additional refined sugar and processed food. The bacteria in the gut must be normal, or the gut barrier breaks down. This failure can cause autoimmune diseases. Eating lots of vegetables and fruit as well as fiber will help to keep your gut bacteria normal.

What foods to eat

A Mediterranean type diet gives you the right foods that you need for your health. Avoid the Standard American diet as it is unhealthy and kills the good gut bacteria. Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage and Brussels sprouts prevent the development of many cancers. Eat three meals a day, a big breakfast, a moderately-sized lunch and a small dinner. This fits best into the diurnal rhythm of your gut bacteria.

 

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.

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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.

 

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Sep
21
2019

What Makes Us Sick And What Keeps Us Healthy

An article in Nature Communication essentially asks what makes us sick and what keeps us healthy? The publication is about eating enough flavonoids to protect you from heart attacks and cancer.

The publication appeared on Aug. 13, 2019. It is a prospective study involving 56,048 participants of the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort. The medium age of the participant in the beginning of the study was 56 (range 52 to 60). This was cross-linked with Danish nationwide registries. The observation time was 23 years during which 14,083 participants died. As this study had a high number of participants and had a long observation period, the data are quite robust.

The researchers found that when people consume 500 mg of flavonoids from vegetables and fruit per day, they are dying significantly less from heart attacks and cancers.

Details of the study on flavonoid intake

Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds in plant-derived foods and beverages such as vegetables, fruit, dark chocolate, coffee, tea, and red wine. There are six major subcategories of flavonoids: flavonols, flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavones, isoflavones and anthocyanins. But it does not matter, which ones we consume, just that we consume enough (more than 500 mg per day).

The results were obtained with much stratification. For instance, in one set of results they normalized for age and sex. They called this model1. In another set they adjusted for age, sex, BMI, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol intake, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, social economic status (income), diabetes, and prevalent disease. They called this model 2.

Participants with 536 mg of daily flavonoid intake had a reduction of 39% of heart attacks according to model 1. Using model 2 this changed to a reduction of 18% of heart attacks.

Cancer mortality reduction

The investigators did a similar analysis for cancer mortality reductions. At 536 mg of daily flavonoid intake model 1 showed a 36% reduction of cancer mortality. Model 2 still calculated a 21% reduction of cancer mortality. In both cases, the cardiovascular mortality risk and the cancer risk showed that more than 500 mg of flavonoids per day were not necessary as no more lives were saved by increasing the flavonoid dose beyond that. Unfortunately the opposite is true: people eat too many processed foods devoid of flavonoids, and they die of heart attacks and cancer prematurely.

Reducing the risk of heart attacks and cancer is not new

Many studies have shown what researchers found in this study, namely that vegetables and fruit can prevent heart attacks and cancer. Here is a brief summary with links to show this.

We heard many times that small amounts of alcohol consumption will keep the arteries clear of fatty deposits. This prevents heart attacks and strokes, but as the following study shows even small amounts of alcohol can cause various cancers.

Small doses of alcohol are still cancer producing

Dr. Timothy S. Naimi from Boston University Medical Center was the main investigator of an international team of scientists. The study found that every year 18,200 to 21,300 cancer deaths in the US (that is 3.2% to 3.7% of all US cancer deaths) are due to alcohol consumption. The authors of the study determined that every person who dies from alcohol related causes lost on average approximately 18 years of his/her life (scientists call this “years of potential life lost”).  51% of women developed breast cancer from alcohol exposure, 62% of men came down with upper airway and esophageal cancers. Less than 1.5 drinks per day caused between 26% and 35% of alcohol-related cancer deaths. There was no safe lower margin. The authors concluded, “Reducing alcohol consumption is an important and underemphasized cancer prevention strategy”.

Lifestyle important for longer life expectancy

I am reminded of a talk that Dr. David Katz delivered in a keynote address. He said that lifestyle improvements create profound changes in our system. This talk took place at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014. One study that was mentioned showed that in men who adopted a healthy lifestyle 35% of heart attacks could be prevented. With healthy lifestyle the authors meant consuming a healthy diet, not exceeding moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, regular physical activity and having a normal waist circumference (less than 95 cm).

The ingredients you need to make it to age 100

A Swedish longevity study that went on for 50 years gave me the idea to write a blog about the factors that can help you to turn 100 and still have your mental capacity and good health.Let me introduce you to this study. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Göteborg, Sweden (which is located at the University of Gothenburg) decided back in 1963 to follow a group of 855 Gothenburg men born in 1913 until they would either die or turn 100. The idea was to find out what killer diseases are in the way to reach such a ripe old age and if they would survive, what was it that made them reach this age. Think of it as a race to turn 100.

What diseases killed at older age and what led to longevity?

The researchers had checkpoints along that journey: various surveys were conducted at the age of 54, 60, 65, 75, 80 and 100 to analyze the factors that lead to longevity. 27% (232) of the original group reached the age of 80, and 13% (111) made it to 90. Only 1.1% of the men made it to the age of 100. What were the causes of death for the other ones who did not make it? 42% of deaths after the age of 80 were due to heart attacks, 20% due to infectious diseases, 8% due to strokes, 8% due to cancer, 6% due to pneumonia and 16% due to other causes. 23% of the men over 80 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Factors that made people survive were refraining from smoking, maintaining a healthy cholesterol level and limiting coffee consumption to not more than 4 cups per day.

Beneficial effects of green tea and black tea

meta-analysis involving 194,965 people and 4378 strokes found that there was a reduction of strokes with increasing tea consumption. Those who drank 3 or 4 cups of green tea or black tea per day were the experimental group. Researchers compared them to the control group that drank less than one cup of tea per day. The experimental group had a 21% lower risk of getting a stroke than the control group.

meta-analysis of 18 studies from China showed that green tea and black tea consumption was beneficial for prevention of cardiovascular disease and for cancer prevention. The highest consumption of green tea reduced cardiovascular mortality (heart attacks and strokes) by 33%. The highest black tea consumption lowered mortality by 12%. Cancer mortality turned out different. Green tea did not produce a reduction in mortality, but black tea lowered it by 21%. I suspect that the different subcomponents of the bioflavonoid content in green and black tea are key to those findings.

Plant-based diet versus animal protein based diet

2016 study that had gone on for 49 years was involving 131,342 participants. Animal protein intake showed an association with higher mortality from heart attacks and strokes. The investigators substituted 3% of energy from processed red meat by an equivalent amount of plant protein. This reduced the all-cause mortality by 34%. For unprocessed red meat the 3% substitution reduced the all-cause mortality by 12%. If 3% of egg consumption is reduced, all cause mortality drops by 19%.

British Medical Journal study

new study has shown that you can save lives when you replace red meat and processed red meat. The replacement was with fish, poultry or protein from vegetables. The study appeared in the British Medical Journal on June 12, 2019. It involved 53,553 women nurses and 27,916 male doctors in the United States and ran from 1986 to 2010. Here is my summary of the blog where I reviewed this study in detail. A new study in the British Medical Journal showed that an increase in red meat consumption of only ½ serving per day for 8 years caused an increased mortality of 9% over the following 8 years. With regard to processed red meat the mortality was even bigger, namely 13%. The researchers replaced some of the meat with white chicken meat or vegetables and the mortality normalized.

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

Using antibiotics as growth promoters is illegal in Japan and Europe

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

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

What Makes Us Sick And What Keeps Us Healthy

What Makes Us Sick And What Keeps Us Healthy

Conclusion

Several studies have pointed out the importance of eating less animal protein and increasing vegetables and fruit in your diet. Heart attacks, strokes and cancers are still the major causes of death in all of the developed countries. The Danish study mentioned in the beginning showed that keeping the daily intake of bioflavonoids at 500 mg or more prevented 18% to 39% of heart attack mortality and 21% to 36% of cancer mortality.

In other studies we learnt that deaths between the ages of 80 and 100 were mainly due to heart attacks, strokes and cancer (these accounted for 58% of deaths). Only 1.1% of the men in that Swedish study made it to the age of 100.

More evidence that flavonoids and plant protein save lives

Another study measured the effect of green and black tea consumption: There was a 21% reduction of strokes with green or black tea consumption.

Another study found reduced cardiovascular mortality by 33%. Green tea reduced cancer mortality by 21%.

Another study showed that when plant protein replaced red meat there was an astounding drop of the all-cause mortality by 34%.

All of these studies show that you must eat enough flavonoids to protect yourself from heart attacks and cancer. Of course you also need to engage in a regular physical exercise program to stay fit and healthy.

Aug
17
2019

How Healthy Is Food From The Supermarket?

I am asking the question here: “how healthy is food from the supermarket?” We tend to assume that food we buy at the supermarket would be safe to eat. Think again, because below I will explain why it is NOT safe.

The “dirty dozen”

You may or may not have heard about the “dirty dozen”. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that monitors fruit and vegetables for insecticide residues. For 2019 they have determined these unhealthy dozen of fruit and vegetables: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and peppers (hot and bell peppers). Yes, you counted right, this “dozen” actually consists of 13 items.

When I want to buy any of these fruit, I strictly get fruit and vegetables, which are organic. If this is not available in the regular supermarket, I go to the health food store and buy organic fruit and vegetables there. Local farmers’ markets also offer organically grown produce. Every year the EWG brings out an up-to-date list of the dirty dozen. If an item is not on this list, you can assume that it is safe to eat.

Sugar and too many starches are the next problem

How healthy is food from the supermarket? We said we wanted healthy food. Unfortunately ample consumption of sugar and starchy foods end up as belly fat and also as atheromatous deposits in the arteries. I do not eat bread unless it is 100% rye, but then only 1 or 2 slices occasionally. I do not eat potatoes, rice or pasta. Those who love pasta can eat the pasta-look-alike, called shirataki, which is made from the glucomannan root (also known as konjac root). The carbs here are bound to fiber, which digest a lot slower than regular pasta. So, this means that you are bypassing the section in the supermarket where they sell muffins, donuts etc.

Processed foods

In the center of the supermarket you find all kinds of processed foods. They are usually full of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats (hydrogenated fats). People who eat a lot of processed foods are more prone to get heart attacks, strokes and may even come down with cancer. It is not the kind of food that I want. Instead I like whole foods like organic apples, berries and raw or cooked vegetables.

Fish section

I like salmon, sole, cod, halibut, trout, mussels, shrimp and squid. But I am careful not to load up on the big predator fish like tuna. One has to be careful about methylmercury content in fish. I reviewed fish, mercury contamination and the benefits in this link.

As this link shows, there are low, medium and high methylmercury contaminated fish. The higher the fish is in the predator chain, the higher the methylmercury content. This is of particular concern for pregnant women as mercury is toxic for the fetal brain tissue. But they can consume low mercury fish and shellfish, like mackerel, herring, wild salmon, shrimps or clams. I figure, what’s good for women who are pregnant is good for other people. As a result, I limit my fish meals to the low methylmercury contaminated fish category.

How healthy is food from the supermarket – Meat section

Now your shopping trip becomes problematical. There has been news from the Word Health Organization at the end of 2015 that red meat and red meat products are class 1 carcinogens.

This would mean that you may come down with colorectal cancer, if you consume red meat and red meat products regularly. This is when I stopped eating red meat and red meat products like prosciutto. Unfortunately this warning includes pork, lamb and all sausages as well. In the meantime further research has shown that antibiotics that are fed to beef before they are slaughtered get into the meat and change the human bowel flora when red meat or red meat products are consumed.

Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO)

There is a change in bowel flora that causes chemical reactions in the gut with the consumption of beef and eggs. Beef contains carnitine, which can lead to the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide).

Egg yolk contains choline, which also raises TMAO levels in the blood.

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

Interestingly, when the diets were switched the TMAO levels normalized again in the former beefeaters, when consuming white meat or protein from non-meat sources.

What meat am I shopping for?

I recommend not to eat beef more often than once per week and to eat only grass-fed beef. I eat organic chicken and ground turkey breast meat from health food stores (the turkeys are NOT fed antibiotics). Otherwise I eat seafood, cheese from non-recombinant growth hormone milk. This means that I only buy European import cheese or Canadian cheese. In the US you have to ask for organic milk and organic milk products.

The deep frozen section

I look for deep frozen vegetables, fruit, and fish as well as meats. As vegetables are quickly readied for the freezer, their vitamin content can be higher than that of a vegetable that has spent 8 days in transit from the field to the produce department. The deep frozen section also gives you access to a lot of variety. You’ll be able to enjoy some organic strawberries, even when they are not in season. Read the labels, as some fruit have been packaged with sugar syrup. Look for the varieties, where no sugar has been added. The frozen section also contains some highly processed items: deep-fried foods and dessert selections, which have nothing to do with health, so I avoid them.

Canned foods

Canned foods can be useful, as long as you are dealing with fruit that are canned in their juices and not in sugar syrup. The vegetables are less valuable in vitamins than their deep frozen counterparts. Watch out for varieties, where less salt is added. The label will tell you ”low sodium”. Also pay attention to the cans. Those that are not lined with BPH have a label that emphasizes this. You can avoid this by buying canned food in glass jars, such as tomato sauce.

Cosmetics

You will not have to navigate all the aisles, except for your cleaning products and your cosmetics. These have their own problems: lots of cosmetics contain Parabens. Leave them on the shelf, and be aware that some cleaning products can be hazardous too. Pick environmentally friendly, non-toxic products!

Staples you need

There are some staples, which you will also require: olive oil, some olives, almonds or macadamia nuts (preferably raw). The one cereal product, which is valuable will be coarse rolled oats and some pot barley. Both varieties carry a lot of fibre, which makes them very useful food staples. Avoid the “quick cooking” or “instant” oats. Due to the processing, the carbohydrates are absorbed a lot faster and consequently trigger a higher insulin response.

Drinks

You will wonder about drinks next. Having passed the colas, ginger ales and other sugar pops you may eye the diet drinks. Beware of drinks sweetened with aspartame. There is increasing evidence that phenylalanine (brand names: Aspartame, NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low) is not a “harmless” sweetener. Newer research has shown that it can cause gastroesophageal reflux (=GERD) and migraine headaches. Stevia, a sweetener from a South American plant, does not have harmful effects. Stevia is safe to use, as it does not cause an insulin response. You are best served with mineral water, purified drinking water, herb teas, tea or coffee. Fruit juices do have vitamins and minerals, but they are high in sugar causing an insulin release.

What is in fruit juices?

You would not really eat 3 large apples in one sitting? Probably not! So why insist on drinking 8 oz. of apple juice? You’ll ingest all the sugar and forgo the fibre! You also notice that a lot of fruit juices have been mixed with sugar, water, artificial flavor, some color, and as an apology some vitamin C has been added. They are appearing on the shelves as “a good source of vitamin C”. In reality we are dealing with flavoured, colorful sugar water. Use your own judgement, whether you want to spend your dollars on this selection!

Power bars, snacks

In the aisle adjacent to the pop you will very likely encounter a huge selection of convenience and snack foods. They have several things in common: you have met them on TV, some will be high in starches and fat (chips), others will be high in starches, sugar, and fat (cookies, donuts, cream pastries), and we are dealing with trans fats. Do take time to read the listed ingredients, and then decide, whether you and those who eat in your household deserve nutritional garbage. 

How Healthy Is Food From The Supermarket?

How Healthy Is Food From The Supermarket?

Conclusion

We have now completed our round trip in the supermarket. You may still be in mild shock, noticing that “healthy” foods are not the general rule on the shelves. When we buy vegetables and fruit we have to be aware of the “dirty dozen”, which is contaminated with insecticides. We will not buy anything on that list, but buy instead the organic version. You may have to go to the health food store to get these items. Red meat and red meat products produce carcinogens in the human gut. It seems to stem from antibiotics that are used in beef farms and chicken farms. With chicken I buy organic chicken. With beef you need to be more careful and reduce the consumption to once per week and eat only grass-fed beef.

It is tricky to buy healthy food from the supermarket

Much of the bakery section is useless. It consists of empty starch that is digested into sugar and leads to an insulin response. I avoid the processed food section, which contains unhealthy ingredients. Fish is great as long as it does not have too much methylmercury in it. Deep frozen foods may be useful.

Shopping for healthy foods from the supermarket has become more complicated than it was in the past. I only select healthy items and supplement the rest from the health food store. This way I get what I need and avoid the pitfalls of merchandise, which is not beneficial.