Nov
24
2018

Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Health

There is a lot of discussion about the fact that intermittent fasting may benefit health. But there are a confusing variety of intermittent fasting schedules. This makes it difficult to compare notes regarding the specific effect of an intermittent fasting diet. Generally speaking when there is some form of calorie restriction, our body goes into a survival mode of operating. These types of diets provide enough nutrients to not get into malnutrition, but at the same time they may stimulate sirtuins, particularly SIR2. This is thought to be associated with longevity.

Various forms of fasting

Eating after 5 PM

The Taylors in the CNN article eat the same amount of calories, but they only eat after 5PM. They claim to have more energy and be less vulnerable to infections. They also think that they feel younger than in the past.

Fasting every other day

This was an observation in the 1980’s to help rats live longer compared to rats that have food available every day. Recent experiments on mice showed similar results: calorie restriction in whatever form leads to prolonged life and health.

Human fasting mimicking diet

A 2017 study on 100 humans divided this group into half. One half ate any food as they wished. The other half consumed only 800 to 1100 calories for 5 days of each month as a fasting mimicking diet. The experimental group had lower fasting blood sugars; cholesterol, triglycerides and other heart disease markers went down. The IGF-1 markers for various cancers also went down. The experimental group lost abdominal fat, but preserved lean body mass. Valter Longo, who co-authored the clinical study said that a human trial on longevity would almost be impossible to design, and would cost “a hundred million dollars or more. But if you look at the data from our trial … it would be hard to see how they would not live longer.”

5:2 diet

Patients are allowed to eat what they want for 5 days of the week, but then they restrict their diet for 2 consecutive days. The control group had no restriction of calories. The 5:2 experimental group had better glucose control and loss of abdominal fat than the control group.

Fasting can help you live-longer

Experts on calorie-restricted diets tell us that there is a switch in metabolism from burning glucose as fuel to using ketones as fuel. Extended periods of exercise will also cause a switch to using ketones as fuel. Repeated cycling from fasting to eating may also benefit our brain function. Intermittent fasting will help us cope better with stress and disease. But Dr. Longo says that this is only one aspect. He found in his research that with intermittent calorie restriction there is a multi-system regeneration going on. For instance, damaged white blood cells are depleted, stem cells are activated, blood sugar control is improved and heart risk factors are being controlled. Dr. Longo mentioned that when tissues are healthy and functional, risk factors for disease decrease.

Mechanisms behind longevity

Dr. Longo explained in detail the complex aging pathways that involve three components, IGF-1, mTOR and PKA. When lifestyle choices stimulate these genetic markers, accelerated aging is the consequence. But with the inhibition of those markers longevity will happen. Here are some of the effects on the body of a fasting mimicking diet.

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

Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Health

Conclusion

Calorie restriction is a powerful method to rejuvenate the body. Surprisingly 5 days out of one month of a calorie restricted fasting mimicking diet is all that is necessary to improve the body’s metabolism. Telomeres get increased, damaged white blood cells are removed and stem cells get stimulated. But weight loss, improvement of pain perception and cardiovascular risk reduction take place as well. In mice longevity was significantly prolonged, but this needs to still be shown in humans.

One can think of an intermittent fasting mimicking diet as a kind of internal cleansing. Following this it is easier to restart the metabolism with clean ingredients.

So far I have followed 11 courses of the fasting mimicking diet. But I don’t buy boxes of 300.00 USD every month. Instead I count calories myself, keep the diet balanced and buy the ingredients in the health food store. I agree that the fasting mimicking diet seems to be effective and it helps to keep my body mass index under control.

Nov
03
2018

When you are sleepless

You are not alone when you are sleepless. Insomnia is a widespread problem in society.

Previous review of the topic of insomnia

I have reviewed the topic of insomnia before in a blog.

Briefly I pointed out that in some people there is a mutation of the gene that controls the circadian sleep rhythm. It is called the CRY1mutation. Some people have sleep disturbances from working night shifts. I mentioned the blue light of electronics that is produced by the TV screens or computer screens. The more you are exposed to it, the more it stimulates the brain to produce serotonin. This undermines the melatonin production, and as a result the person finds it extremely difficult to fall asleep. Children playing with i-phones, tablets or watching children’s programs on television can have sleep disturbances from the blue light. Blue has the frequency that over stimulates the brain and interferes with melatonin production. Drug and alcohol abuse can also interfere with the normal circadian sleep rhythm and cause insomnia.

Hormone factors of insomnia

For natural sleep to occur, we need melatonin which the pineal gland releases in the evening. It initiates and maintains sleep during the night. The natural opponent of melatonin is cortisol, the stress hormone, from the adrenal glands. Both hormones need to be in balance to allow you to sleep normally. Shortly before we wake up in the morning melatonin production goes down and cortisol production is up. Cortisol levels are low at night and high during the day. So it is cortisol that keeps us going throughout the day. But an excess of cortisol from chronic stress can also interfere with falling asleep and sleeping through the night.

Stress and insomnia

When we feel stressed, cortisol production goes way up. This has consequences regarding our sleep pattern. It can interfere with falling asleep, causes us to wake up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night and can give us problems falling asleep again. Chronic stress exposure leads to high cortisol production by the adrenal glands, which in turn will lower melatonin and cause sleep disturbances. Older people (above the age of 50) have very little melatonin production left, as there is an age-related decline of melatonin production. The melatonin production is highest in younger years and lowest in older age.

What to do when you are sleepless

There are several over-the-counter remedies, which in combination can be quite effective.

Melatonin for when you are sleepless

Melatonin (3 mg at bedtime) is a good start to see what it does for your sleeplessness. Taking a small amount of melatonin at bedtime we can re-establish the balance between cortisol and melatonin, which helps the circadian hormone rhythm and sleep pattern to come back. Some people wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall asleep again. If this happens at 3 AM, a good remedy at this time is to take another 3 mg of melatonin. Melatonin stays in the system for about 4 hours. Light during the day de-activates the effect, when light hits the retinas upon opening your eyes. You should not exceed 6 mg of total melatonin overnight. Otherwise it will interfere with the balance of cortisol and melatonin, lowering cortisol levels, which would rob you of energy during the day.

Phosphorylated serine (Seriphos)

A supplement that is freely available in the US (but not in Canada) consists of a simple amino acid. As this link shows (second item in the link) phosphorylated serine Seriphos) helps to down-regulate cortisol levels (lowering them). This means that melatonin gets the upper hand and you can sleep again.

The dosage for phosphorylated serine (Seriphos) varies from person to person, but will be in the range of 1000 mg to 3000 mg in the evening. After about 30 days the circadian rhythm may have recovered and you can stop the Seriphos. A one-day pause is required once a month for resetting the hormone receptors. Should you still have problems sleeping, you can continue with it for another month and pause again for a day. Seriphos has very few side effects.

Valerian root capsules

Another useful sleep aid is valerian root (as capsules). 500 mg to 1000 mg will help you to relax. It does not have the side effect of feeling groggy the next morning.

Other considerations when you are sleepless

Hormone problems like thyroid abnormalities (too much or too little thyroid hormones) are issues that your doctor has to investigate. Women in menopause often have sleep disturbances due to a lack of estrogen and progesterone. A knowledgeable healthcare professional is able to take care of that by prescribing bioidentical hormone creams.

When men approach andropause (the equivalent of menopause in women), they lose testosterone production. This can cause insomnia. The doctor can verify the hormone loss by a blood test. Replacement with either bioidentical testosterone cream or injections will rebalance testosterone levels. Insomnia may disappear. It is essential not to overdose testosterone, as this can also cause insomnia.

Sleep lab for when you are sleepless

When home remedies do not help, it may be time to check into one of the sleep labs to diagnose the kind of sleep disorder you are suffering from. Here is an overview what is happening there.

Essentially you get hooked up to monitors and are encouraged to just sleep as you would normally do. The physician in charge of the lab will later explain to you what the monitors showed, and tell you what type of sleep. According to the findings your doctor will recommend what measures are appropriate to remedy the situation.

Treatment for insomnia when over-the-counter remedies fail

Short acting benzodiazepams

When anxiety is not a problem, but only insomnia is (falling asleep or staying asleep) lorazepam 1 mg (Ativan) or temazepam 10 mg (Restoril) are shorter acting benzodiazepams that will help. It is not a permanent but a short “emergency break” for intermittent use, so that the GABA benzodiazepine receptors have time to recover. Otherwise, with continuous use tolerance would set in. This means higher and higher doses of the sleep medication would be necessary to achieve the same effect. Another non-benzodiazepine is Zolpidem 5 mg (Ambien). Even though this medication is not a benzodiazepine, it works on stimulating the same GABA benzodiazepine receptors.

Longer acting benzodiazepams combined with antidepressant Trazodone

For several years the combination of a small amount of the longer acting benzodiazepams, clonazepam (Rivotril) at 0.5 mg combined with a small amount of the anti-depressant trazodone (Oleptro or Desyrel) at 50 mg at bedtime has been has been in use quite successfully.

But there is a concern of drowsiness caused by Rivotril as this link shows.

Trazodone, which is an antidepressant has a sleep cycle restoring effect at low doses and has less side effects, because it is used at ¼ the dose for a full-blown depression. Males are often complaining that it reduces their sex drive, and it may cause erectile dysfunction.

Clonazepam side effects

Rivotril was originally in use to control epileptic seizures and anxiety. The combination therapy for sleep disorders uses Rivotril at ¼ of the regular dose. Although it is good as a sleep aid, it has a long half-life and stays in the system well into the next day. This may present as sleepiness and cause falls in elderly patients because of clouded attention. Replacement by one of the medium long acting benzodiazepams could be the solution. A drug pause for 1 day will help to reset the GABA benzodiazepine receptors and prevent tolerance from happening. Knowing all those effects and side effects it is wiser to reserve the use of these medication strictly when everything else has failed!

When you are sleepless

When you are sleepless

Conclusion

As I mentioned before, you are not alone when you are sleepless. Insomnia can present as having problems to fall asleep, but it may present in others as a problem in the middle of the night waking up and having problems going back to sleep again.

I described non-conventional methods to help you to sleep using melatonin, Seriphos and valerian root capsules. If this fails, a sleep lab investigation may be necessary to get to the bottom of your insomnia problem. Physicians often prescribe short acting benzodiazepams like lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam 10 mg (Restoril).

Other possibilities to treat insomnia

There are other possibilities to treat insomnia, with a combination of a low-dose antidepressant (trazodone, brand name Oleptro in the US) and low-dose anti-seizure and anti-anxiety drug clonazepam (Klonopin or Rivotril). Anxiety can often be a big component in insomnia and this treats both. On the other hand, anxiety is a separate problem, which needs professional treatment. There can be side effects of sleepiness from clonazepam and men complain of a lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction from trazodone. Help is available when you are sleepless. But you need professional help to work on the problem and find the solution.

Apr
14
2018

Where Does Fat Go With Weight loss?

People often wonder where does fat go with weight loss? This question recently came up in a CNN conversation.  The answer was originally researched by Dr. Ruben Meerman and Professor Andrew Brown.

Dr. Meerman is an assistant scientist at the University of New South Wales and author of “Big Fat Myths: When You Lose Weight, Where Does the Fat Go?” Professor Brown is the head of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the same university.

When you lose 1 kilogram of fat, where does fat go with weight loss?

The interesting answer to this question is that fat gets metabolized. Dr, Meerman and Prof. Brown pointed out that originally Leifson et al. answered this question who used heavy oxygen and found out that this was metabolized into heavy water.

Technically these experiments are fairly complex, but they allow the researchers to see exactly where the body incorporates these chemicals and where they end up with breakdown of fat. The BMJ paper describes that the breakdown of 1 kg of fat follows the following pattern: It breaks down into 0.84 kg of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and 0.16 kg of H2O (water). In other words, the lungs are the primary organs that get rid of fat and the kidneys excrete the water. There is a bit of extra energy in this chemical reaction as well, which dissipates through the skin and through exhaled air.

What did health professionals think where the fat would go?

The health professionals were doctors, dieticians and personal trainers. About 65% of them thought fat would evaporate into energy/heat. About 10% thought fat would end up in the feces. 5% thought fat would turn into muscle. Another 5% thought fat would turn into sweat or urine. 8% were correct that fat would become CO2 and H2O. 7% said they did not know.

The chemistry of fat deposits and metabolizing fat

The body deposited triglycerides from the liver metabolism of sugar and fatty acids into fat cells and stored them as oleate (C18H34O2), palmitate (C16H32O2), and linoleate (C18H32O2). Part of this are many chemical reactions, including a number of enzymes. These fatty acids form esters and turn into gigantic molecules with this chemical formula: C55H104O6. The BMJ paper further says that an overall chemical description of metabolized fat would look like this:

C55H104O6+78O2→55CO2+52H2O+energy. In plain English it means that 1 molecule of fat ester (from fat storage) is metabolized together with 78 molecules of oxygen. This results in 55 molecules of carbon dioxide, 52 molecules of water and energy.

Fat turns into carbon dioxide and water

Based on this chemical reaction a calculation of the breakdown of fat into carbon dioxide and water was possible. The surprising result is that 84% of fat becomes carbon dioxide and only 16% of fat becomes water. We exhale the carbon dioxide from our lungs and it is mostly the kidneys that excrete the water. People who lose weight are aware that they have to urinate more often. But they do not notice that they get rid of a lot of carbon dioxide, as this is a subtle process.

Some observations from the fasting mimicking diet

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was at the center of the most recent anti-aging conference in Las Vegas I attended. This was the 25th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas, Dec. 14-16, 2017. Late in December 2017 I started 5 days of FMD and have just completed my 4th round of it (FMD is done 5 days out of each month). My main interest in doing this is to prevent heart attacks and strokes and I like the idea of stimulating telomeres for anti-aging and increasing stem cell production. See more details under this link.

Personal experience of fasting mimicking diet

I keep meticulous records of my body measurements using daily body composition scales, which I record in a booklet. Between March 23, 2018 and March 28 I lost 1.5 kg from 64.8 kg to 63.3 kg. Fat composition was reduced from 14.1% to 12.2%. Visceral fat was reduced from 6% to 5%. My muscle percentage rose from 38.1% to 39.1%. The basic metabolic rate was 1471 Calories on March 23 and went down to 1449 Calories on March 28. My body mass index went from 22.0 to 21.5.

I definitely noticed the frequent urination, something I had noticed in the past in 2001 when I lost 50 pounds over 3 months. Of course it is understandable when you reduce your daily calorie intake to 600 Calories per day that you will lose this amount of weight. People have different metabolisms. It may be that you won’t lose as much as I did.

What causes mainly weight loss?

There are many people who think that extra exercise would help you lose weight. But a publication has established that only about 8% of weight loss is due to exercising. 92% of weight loss is due to dieting.

Regular exercise is important for conditioning of your lungs, heart, muscles and joints. But to keep things in balance a reasonable diet, like a Mediterranean diet, should also be part of the regimen.

Sugar overconsumption

The obesity wave in the US started to take off between 1976 and 1980. 40 years later it is still rising. It is interesting to note that both wheat flour and sugar consumption in the US were increasing parallel to the rising obesity figures. In the 70’s the old-fashioned wheat has changed into the force hybridized Clearfield wheat, which is now 100% of the commercially available wheat. Clearfield wheat contains 7-fold higher gluten amounts than the old-fashioned wheat that your grandparents consumed. Gluten stimulates your appetite, so you crave more wheat and you crave more sugar. This becomes a vicious cycle.

Excess calories are stored as fat

The liver metabolizes sugar from regular food and from processed food into triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol that plugs up arteries). As I mentioned above, the body stores any excess triglycerides as fat and deposits the excess into fatty cells. You see from this that essentially sugar and wheat end up as fat deposits. I suggest you change your food intake into eating sensible food with fewer calories. Start by eliminating most of your sugar, wheat and processed food intake. This will help you to melt fat away as I showed with an example of my 5 day FMD.

Where Does Fat Go With Weight loss?

Where Does Fat Go With Weight loss?

Conclusion

I reviewed facts about the chemistry of melting fat away. The question is where does fat go with weight loss? In the process of weight loss fat breaks down into carbon dioxide and water. I also documented how you can lose fat in just 5 days (1.1 kilogram) on a 600-calorie diet and reduce the body mass index from 22.0 to 21.5.

Most people do not recognize the importance of watching their diet to achieve weight loss. 92% of weight loss occurs as a result of dieting. Wheat and sugar consumption have a direct connection to the obesity wave that started between 1976 and 1980. I have cut out all wheat, all sugar and all processed food in 2001. This allowed me to lose 50 pounds then and my body mass index today is 21.5. It can be done, even if you are 73 years old.

Dec
30
2017

Fasting Mimicking Diet

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was at the center of this year’s anti-aging conference in Las Vegas. This was the 25th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas, Dec. 14-16, 2017. Dr. Valter Longo, PhD reviewed some of the research he had done on longevity in yeast cells, worms and mice.

Fasting mimicking diet relevant in humans

Dr. Longo pointed out that this type of research has relevance in humans. If there was a cure for cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, we would live 13 years longer. But if we stimulated longevity with this pulsed calorie restricted diet, we would live on average 30 years longer. There is a rare genetic abnormality where people are deficient for IGF-1, a growth factor produced in the liver. These genetically IGF-1 deficient people live longer and do not develop cancer. Observations like these and detailed mouse experiments inspired Dr. Longo to develop a new diet plan. Patients would receive a fasting mimicking diet on 5 days per month. The rest of the month would consist of a normal, balanced diet. 5 days of the month the person would consume a low 800-calorie diet. This is enough to ensure adherence to the diet, but low enough to lead to enormous metabolic changes including youth-preserving stem cell stimulation.

Clinical Application of fasting mimicking diet in cardiovascular health

Dr. Joel Kahn, Prof. of Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine lectured later that day. He is also the Director at the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity. His talk was entitled “The Fast Track to Slow Cardiac Aging: Fasting &Targeted Nutrition”. He mentioned that a fasting mimicking diet was a powerful tool in cardiology to prevent heart attacks and hardening of arteries. He explained in detail the complex aging pathways that involve three components, IGF-1, mTOR and PKA. When lifestyle choices stimulate these genetic markers, accelerated aging is a consequence. But with the inhibition of those markers longevity can happen. He added that researchers looked at heart cells, where the same principles apply. Dr. Kahn pointed out that the basic research of Dr. Longo enables clinicians to see positive results in patients who follow caloric restriction for 5 days in a month on a regular basis.

How does the fasting mimicking diet work?

It is best to let one of the users of this diet explain how it works. Once per month you eat calorie-restricted food with only 800 calories per day and you follow this regimen for 5 days. Some patients receive 1100 calories for the first of these 5 days, if they have difficulties switching from normal food to the boxed food. Dt. Longo has developed boxed food, called ProLon (from L-Nutra). ProLon stands for “pro longevity”. Dr. Longo and Dr. LaValle mentioned at the conference that these prepared meals make it a lot easier for patients to stick to the low calorie diet. Three hundred dollars for the boxed food for 5 days are a stiff price, and this may well be out of reach for you.

Alternative way to make your own 800 calorie food at home

Nevertheless, this should not stop you. You can look at the ingredients online and copy the boxed food by creating your own balanced 800 calories per day food at home. It is true: you have to do some research! But counting calories and finding information about the caloric content of food on the Internet is not difficult. And preparing these very, basic, small and simple meals does not require a degree in nutrition. Here is another testimony from a user of the fasting mimicking diet.

Effect of the fasting mimicking diet on the metabolism

In the past it was thought that only ketogenic diets or periods of fasting would trigger longevity genes. But the basic research of Dr. Longo and others has shown that a low calorie diet for only 5 days can achieve the same thing. Longevity genes are activated; the negative aging pathways including IGF-1, mTOR and PKA are suppressed. The immune system gets activated from this. It also  leads to lowering of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and diabetes improves. With the fasting mimicking diet the stomach sees some food, but the cells are fasting. According to Dr. Kahn this combination down regulates the body’s key nutrient-sensing pathways, which activates cellular regeneration and rejuvenation.

Clinical observations

Dr. Khan observed a high compliance rate with 3 cycles of the fasting mimicking diet. 94% of a group of patients were compliant over 3 months. Mild fatigue, mild headaches and mild weakness were present, but improved with each cycle. In addition to the above findings Dr. Khan found that there was weight loss, abdominal fat loss and waist circumference loss. There was also a reduction in IGF-1 levels, a reduction of the C-reactive protein and stimulation of stem cells.

Inflammation reduced, autoimmune diseases improved

The reduction of the C-reactive protein proves that semi-fasting reduces inflammation. The finding of stimulation of stem cells explains that regenerative processes can take place. Pain disappears, people report more energy and are generally feeling better.

There are other clinical findings. The positive effects from following the fasting mimicking diet last for several months. Also, when patients are on chemotherapy for cancer, the FMD will protect the healthy cells from the side effects of chemotherapy.

Dr. Kahn and Dr. LaValle noted that autoimmune disease responded to FMD. This was shown in both animal experiments using mice and in clinical case reports. Dr. LaValle described a 46-year old former Olympic athlete swimmer who had multiple sclerosis. After FMD she lost all of her muscle aches and cured her optic neuritis. This was something conventional medicine could not do for her.

Clinical applications of fasting mimicking diet

Here are some of the conditions that will respond to it.

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

Maintaining the achievements of the fasting mimicking diet

At this point the implications of this new approach to weight loss and metabolic rejuvenation can only be estimated.

Limiting calories for 5 days triggers a metabolic change, which is permanent. You can experience the full effect of this rejuvenating low calorie treatment. You can do it every month without having to fear vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Here is another link to the website of Dr. Axe where the fasting mimicking diet is also recommended.

Fasting Mimicking Diet

Fasting Mimicking Diet

Conclusion

The 25th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas, Dec. 14-16, 2017 had a new theme. Several talks dealt with the fasting mimicking diet (FMD). It is a calorie-reduced diet for 5 days in a month that will reset your metabolism. But it will also stimulate your stem cells and can heal autoimmune diseases. If you need chemotherapy for cancer, it protects your bone marrow and improves cancer cure rates. The interesting thing is that the effects of this low calorie treatment persist permanently for many months.

With the help of this diet longevity has been shown in mice; there has been a threefold life expectancy boost. Smaller trials in humans have shown telomere lengthening and stem cell stimulation. It is too early to say what the long-term effects will be for humans. But you can treat yourself with the FMD for 5 days of every month on an ongoing basis. The other days of the month you are eating a normal diet. This will ensure that your metabolism stays in top shape.

A healthier and longer life

Practical applications for the FMD are huge. Patients with obesity, diabetes and pain conditions all benefit from this. High blood pressure drops. There will be prevention of heart attacks, and there is improvement in patients with autoimmune diseases. There is better cancer survival when on the FMD. Finally there is a strong possibility that you will live longer, but also stay healthier on this intermittent calorie restricted diet.

As Dr. LaValle said: it is “fasting with food”, and Dr. Kahn added: “Eat less, live more!”

More info:  Life extension through calorie restriction.

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Sep
09
2017

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Young heart stem cells can cure old hearts in rats. This is what research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles found. You may not be that impressed, because this talks about rats and not humans. But this is a brand-new concept, so of course research of animal experiments is first.

The heart experiment

Dr. Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, is the research director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. His idea was to take cardiac stem cells (called cardiosphere-derived cells) from hearts of newborn rats. He injected them into 22 months old rats. The human equivalent for 22 months old rats are older people with older hearts. Within one months of the stem cells’ injections the older rats had normal functioning hearts. Their telomeres were also normal. Telomeres are the caps of the chromosomes of the heart cells. The researchers were astonished to find that the previously short telomeres had become longer. This happened within only one month of the stem cell injections. To Marbán’s surprise the older rats also grew hair faster and gained 20% of their previous exercise tolerance limit. In other words, the injection of heart stem cells had rejuvenated the old rats.

Dr. Marbán has previously shown that exosomes play an important role with stem cell regeneration of old heart cells. These particles from the stem cell donor contain RNA and other growth factors.

Overview of how stem cells can reverse heart failure

Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke and congestive heart failure. About 2600 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each day in the US. This is roughly one death every 34 seconds. With old age, if a heart attack does not kill you, congestive heart failure will. With heart failure your heart ceases to pump enough blood through your system. Nutrients and oxygen need to reach all of our cells or it means death for the patient. With the knowledge of this serious background, stem cells have come into the focus in an attempt to combat congestive heart failure.

Animal experiments with stem cells in mice, rats and pigs have shown some progress in restoring better heart function. Researchers used different sources of stem cells, like cardiac stem cells that reside in the heart muscle itself. They also used other stem cell sources. Among these were myoblasts (from muscle), mesenchymal stem cells (from fat tissue) and bone marrow stem cells. Several smaller human trials showed that improvement of heart function was possible following a heart attack. In the procedure the surgeon opened coronary arteries and injected stem cells into the affected damaged heart muscle. How can we assess the result of a successful stem cell treatment? By measuring the left ventricular ejection fraction. This means that the heart can deliver a larger volume of blood every minute. The heart pumps more blood from the left ventricle with each heartbeat than before the treatment.

Other experiments that rejuvenate tissues of older animals

Another line of experiments in this paper shows that certain growth factors are necessary to activate stem cells.

  1. One experiment from the 1950’s describes the stitching together of the skin on their flanks joined an old and a young rat. After this procedure the blood vessels grew and joined the two animals circulatory systems. The older animals knee cartilage damage was no longer there, as the cells from the young animals’ blood had healed the damage.
  2. Research had no knowledge of this fact at that time. But another research group in the 2000’s repeated the experiment and could prove that the stem cells of the young animals activated the growth factors in the old animals.
  3. In 2004 Dr. Rando noted that muscle cells of aging mice were aging because of a lack of stimulation of the local skeletal muscle stem cells. These are satellite cells. Experiments similar to the rat experiment showed that there were factors in the blood of young mice that could re-activate stem cells in the muscles of old mice. Agility and movement of the older mice improved. The improvement in the older mice with knee arthritis disappearing and liver cells rejuvenating was astounding.

More evidence that rejuvenation of heart cells is possible

  1. Amy J. Wagers, a former colleague of Dr. Rando carried on experiments with respect to rejuvenation of hearts in mice. She and her colleagues found what stimulated the hearts of old mice. It was a protein called GDF11 (from young mice).  This 2016 publication describes the action of GDF11.
  2. A 2014 paper describes that GDF11 was able to restore aging muscles to a youthful state. But the researchers were also able to rejuvenate stem cell function in general with GDF11.
  3. Another paper describes that blood from young mice stimulates the brain of older animals to achieve rejuvenation. It is the protein of the young stem cells (called GDF11) and possibly other growth factors to bring about this rejuvenation. It works not only on heart cells, but also on hippocampus tissue in dementia models. This may be important in humans for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We can turn back the clock instead of slowing the clock down.” Dr. Toren Finkel said. He is the director of the Center for Molecular Medicine at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He went on to say: “That’s a nice thought, if it pans out.” But others who caution that overstimulation of stem cells could cause cancers say: “It is quite possible that it will dramatically increase the incidence of cancer,” Dr. Irina M. Conboy said, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “You have to be careful about overselling it.”

Degenerative changes in humans responding to stem cells

Many degenerative changes in humans respond to stem cell treatments. Are there stem cells present in degenerative tissue in humans similar to the animal experiments described above? Are the stem cells merely providing growth factors so the dormant stem cells jump into action and regenerate? Could it be that in future therapists could give a certain growth factor mix  intravenously to a patient, and the same effect as stem cell injections would be posssible? These are all unanswered questions, but research in the next decade should answer at least some of those questions.

Growth hormone improving heart function in heart failure patients

In 2008 a metaanalysis of human studies of congestive heart failure and treatment with human growth hormone (HGH) injections was a research topic. It showed an average increase of the ejection fraction by 4.3%. There were also increased cardiac output, decreased systemic vascular resistance and improved hemodynamic effects. The question is whether the effect is a direct effect on the heart muscle cells by HGH or whether HGH was recruiting dormant heart muscle stem cells. This is not clear at this point.

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Conclusion

We have entered an exciting period of medical research. Although there is only a record of many animal experiments, there is overwhelming evidence that the same principles are true in humans. Many stem cell protocols for humans have already seen use for various applications. But stem cell treatments for heart disease are still in their early stages. As it becomes obvious from my review of this topic, some patients who were part of clinical trials have already experienced positive results. Congestive heart failure or poor pump performance following a heart attack have improved following various stem cell procedures. In the next few years there likely will be a proliferation of treatment options for patients. Although some critics have pointed out a possibility of cancer developing as a side effect of stem cell treatment, no evidence is noticeable at this point.

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Sep
02
2017

Resveratrol Effective In Humans

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant; but is resveratrol effective in humans?

  1. Quack watch says: don’t buy into the hype that resveratrol is effective in humans.
  2. WebMD claims that there would not be enough medical evidence to say that the average person should supplement with resveratrol to receive benefits.

Despite these recommendations the following evidence supports that resveratrol is indeed effective in humans.

Resveratrol effective in humans: high blood pressure patients

First of all, a 2017 study of high blood pressure patients examined resveratrol supplementation with two groups, 46 stage 1 hypertension patients and 51 stage 2 hypertension patients. Stage 1 hypertension had a systolic blood pressure of 140–159 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of 90–99 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension had a systolic blood pressure of 160–179 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of 100–109 mmHg. Analysts divided both stage 1 and 2 subgroups into two groups, one receiving regular antihypertensive medication, and the other group receiving regular antihypertensive medication plus Evelor. Evelor is a micronized formulation of resveratrol. The trial lasted two years.

Blood pressure lowering effect of resveratrol

The purpose of the trial was to determine the effect of resveratrol.  added to the regular antihypertensive medication (or not) to see whether it had blood pressure lowering effects. The interesting result showed that the resveratrol addition was sufficient to bring the blood pressure down to normal levels with only one antihypertensive drug. The control group without resveratrol needed two or three drugs to get the blood pressure under control. In addition, liver function tests showed that resveratrol normalized negative side effects of the antihypertensive drug on the liver. Both liver enzymes, glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) and gammaglutamyl transferase (Gamma-GT) were normal in the resveratrol group.

Resveratrol effective in humans: diabetes patients

Diabetes patients can get help with resveratrol. Resveratrol, the bioflavonoid from red  wine is a powerful anti-inflammatory. This antioxidant has several other effects, which make it challenging to measure each effect by itself. Another group of investigators managed to simultaneously measure these effects. They found that resveratrol lowered the C-reactive protein by 26% and tumor necrosis factor-alpha by 19.8%. Resveratrol also decreased fasting blood sugar and insulin; in addition it reduced hemoglobin A1C and insulin resistance. The recommended daily dose of resveratrol was 1000 to 5000 mg.

Resveratrol effective in humans: improves bone density

Furthermore, resveratrol improves bone density in men: 66 middle-aged obese men with an average age of 49.3 years and a mean body mass index of 33.7 were recruited for this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. The purpose was to study whether there would be changes in bone turnover markers (LDH, an enzyme involved in bone turnover), but also whether bone mineral density (BMD) would increase. The researchers gave resveratrol to a high group (1000 mg per day), a low group (150 mg) and the third group received a placebo (fake pills). The end point was an elevation of the bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP). The investigators measured this in the beginning of the study and at 4, 8 and 16 weeks.

Difference between high and low dose resveratrol

The high group of resveratrol had a 16% increase of the BAP throughout the study and a 2.6% in lumbar spine bone density (measured by a trabecular volumetric method). The low resveratrol group showed no bone restoring effect. MJ Ornstrup, MD, the lead investigator said that this was the first time that a clinical team has proven that resveratrol can serve as an anti-osteoporosis drug in humans. She added that resveratrol appears to stimulate bone-forming cells within the body.

Resveratrol effective in humans: anti-aging effects

Finally, the Nurses’ Health Study showed that both a Mediterranean diet and resveratrol can elongate telomeres.

The fact that you can have a longer life with a Mediterranean diet is common knowledge for some time. But now a study has shown that the reason for a longer life is the fact that telomeres get elongated from the Mediterranean diet. Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes, and they get shorter with each cell division. This is the normal aging process.

Important information from the Nurses’ Health Study 

The finding of elongated telomeres comes from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study that started enrolling subjects in 1976. At that time 121 700 nurses from 11 states enrolled in the study. In 1980 participants filled in diet sheets to determine who was adhering to a Mediterranean diet. The researchers accepted 4676 middle-aged participants in this study. This diet consists of a combination of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, grains and olive oil. They also consumed fish and lean meats. The control group followed a regular diet. Between 1989 and 1990 blood tests were obtained to measure telomere length in white blood cells. It is known that smoking, stress and inflammation shortens telomeres.

Slowed telomere shortening

The lead author Marta Crous-Bou stated that overall healthy eating was responsible for longer telomeres in comparison to the control group. But the strongest association was in women eating a Mediterranean diet in comparison to the controls. For the best diet adherence score there was a 4.5 year longer life expectancy due to slowed telomere shortening.

Resveratrol lengthens telomeres

Longer telomeres associated with the lowest risk to develop chronic diseases and the highest probability of an increase of the life span. I have reviewed the importance of lifestyle factors in this blog where I pointed out that Dr. Chang found a whole host of factors that can elongate telomeres by stimulating telomerase. Research in humans supports the notion that an increase in physical activity elongates telomeres. So did vitamin C, E and vitamin D3 supplementation, resveratrol, a Mediterranean diet and marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. In addition higher fiber intake, bioidentical estrogen and progesterone replacement in aging women and testosterone in aging men, as well as relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are also elongating telomeres.

Aging is due to shortening of telomeres. Elongation of telomeres by resveratrol leads to prolonged life (or anti-aging).

Resveratrol effective in humans: resveratrol and cancer

In addition, this overview shows, it seems that several mechanisms of action give resveratrol the power to be an anticancer agent. Resveratrol is anti-proliferative and has anti-angiogenesis mechanisms. In addition resveratrol stimulates apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. All these actions together help resveratrol to have anticancer properties. Resveratrol is also useful in combination with other cancer treatments, which improves survival figures. As the link above explains, there is a need for more cancer clinical trials with a variety of cancers and larger patient numbers. Many smaller clinical trials have already been very successful showing efficacy of resveratrol as a chemotherapeutic agent.

Resveratrol is anti-inflammatory

Also, in this 2015 publication about malignancies and resveratrol an overview is given about the use of resveratrol and cancer treatment. It summarizes that the development of cancer is a multifactorial process that involves the 3 stages of initiation, promotion and progression. One of the cancer promoting factors is chronic inflammation. Resveratrol has anti-inflammatory qualities. At this point it is not clear how the animal experiments will translate into the human situation. More clinical observations are necessary.

Resveratrol effective in humans: cardiovascular disease

Resveratrol has beneficial effects on preventing hardening of the arteries, diabetes, various cancers and inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Furthermore,  as this link explains resveratrol also stimulates the antiaging gene SIRT1 by 13-fold. This confirms the anti-aging effect of resveratrol. This 2012 study confirmed that it is resveratrol from red wine that is responsible for the “French paradox” (longer life expectancy despite high saturated fat intake).

Resveratrol effective in humans: polycystic ovarian syndrome 

Similarly, polycystic ovarian syndrome could be significantly healed with resveratrol in a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. It involved 30 subjects who completed the trial. Each of the subjects received 1500 mg of resveratrol or placebo daily for 3 months. Measurements showed a decrease of serum total testosterone by 23.1% at the end of 3 months in the experimental group versus the placebo group. There was also a decrease of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate of 22.2%.There was a reduction of the fasting insulin level by 31.8%. At the same time there was an increase of the insulin sensitivity by 66.3%. The authors concluded that resveratrol had significantly reduced ovarian and adrenal gland male hormones (androgens). This may be in part from the drop in insulin levels and the increase of insulin sensitivity.

Resveratrol effective in humans: anti-arteriosclerotic effects in diabetics

Most noteworthy, a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was done on 50 diabetics. Arterial stiffness was determined by the cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI). The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of resveratrol on the stiffness of arteries in a group of diabetics and compare this to a placebo. Diabetics have premature hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerotic changes). After 12 weeks of taking 100 mg of resveratrol per day there was a significant reduction in arterial stiffness in the experimental group, but not in the placebo group. Blood pressure also decreased by 5 mm mercury (systolic) in the experimental group.

Resveratrol effective in humans: ulcerative colitis patients

Finally, 56 patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis received 500 mg of resveratrol or placebo and were observed for 6 weeks. This was a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. The researchers used bowel disease questionnaires to assess the bowel disease activity before and after the treatment. The resveratrol group decreased the disease activity significantly, but it also increased their quality of life. Blood tests showed that this improvement occurred as a result of reducing oxidative stress by resveratrol.

Resveratrol effective in humans: Alzheimer’s disease prevention

Here is a study where 52 Alzheimer’s patients were divided into two groups; one group received 200 mg of resveratrol for a number of weeks, the other group placebo pills. There was a significant improvement in memory tests in the resveratrol group and functional MRI scans showed better functional connectivity in the hippocampi of the subjects. The hippocampus is the seat for short-term memory, which is not functioning normally in Alzheimer’s patients.

Resveratrol Effective In Humans

Resveratrol Effective In Humans

Conclusion

Resveratrol has a long history of showing evidence of improving health. It does so by countering oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which lessens hardening of arteries. This prevents heart attacks and strokes. Resveratrol is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, which helps patients with diabetes, with Crohn’s disease and arthritis. There is even a cancer preventing effect of resveratrol because of anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenesis effects as well as stimulating apoptosis. These combined anticancer properties make resveratrol a chemotherapeutic agent. It is also effective in combination with conventional anticancer drugs.

Resveratrol helps prevent hardening of arteries and cancer

There are enough randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trials in humans to show that resveratrol is effective in preventing and treating several disease conditions. The medical establishment claims that there would not be enough medical evidence to say that the average person should supplement with resveratrol to receive health benefits. After my review outlined above I come to the opposite conclusion. It is quite clear that resveratrol has several important healing properties. It can improve diabetes; prevent hardening of arteries, lower blood pressure, attack osteoporosis and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. I have been taking 500 mg of resveratrol daily for years. It has not harmed me.

Jul
22
2017

Relaxation Reduces Inflammation

Relaxation can calm your mind, but new research has shown that relaxation reduces inflammation as well.

This article is based on a research paper in Frontiers in Immunology in June of 2017.

It concentrated on the calming effect of meditation on the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), which causes inflammation. We know that overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system activates the inflammatory pathway by expressing the genes responsible for NF-κB. These authors showed that the reverse is true also, namely that  meditation suppresses inflammation.

This metaanalysis of 18 research papers included 846 participants.

Here are brief summary findings of these 18 studies. Note that diverse relaxation methods had very similar results on the genes expressing inflammatory markers.

1. Qigong practitioners

First of all, a group of Qigong practitioners had 132 downregulated genes and 118 upregulated genes when compared to non-meditating controls. Meditation strengthens the immune system and delays cell death.

2. Sudarshan Kriya yoga

Also, one form of yoga breathing is Sudarshan Kriya yoga. Subjects who practiced this form of breathing yoga for 1 hour per day did not have the stress-related response on white blood cells. In contrast, the controls who did not meditate this way showed no change in the white blood cell response to stress. Those practicing yoga had a strengthened immune system. The meditators also showed strengthening of genes that inhibit cell death.

3. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Furthermore, eight patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia were practicing the “seven yoga breathing patterns”; the popular Indian yoga teacher, Swami Ramdev, developed these. Those patients practicing the breathing yoga technique activated 4,428 genes compared to controls. They showed an up to twofold upregulation, which strengthened their immune system.

4. Loneliness in older people

Another study noted that loneliness in older people causes inflammation, morbidity and mortality. 55-85 year old volunteers were taking a course of mindfulness-based stress reduction. The researchers wanted to find out whether it was due to increased inflammation that older people were more susceptible to disease. The physicians tested blood mononuclear cells for genome-wide transcriptional profiling. Those older persons who had reported loneliness had more transcription factors for nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) than controls without feelings of loneliness. After an 8-week course those who no longer felt loneliness had a reversal of proinflammatory gene expression. The genes that had changed expression were located on monocytes and B-lymphocytes; these are cells of the immune system.

5. Care workers for patients with mental health problems

Care workers who looked after patients with mental health problems or chronic physical problems often have stress-induced chronic inflammation markers in their blood. A study involving 23 caregivers used a practice of Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM) assisted by an audio recording every day for 8 weeks. The subjects filled in questionnaires for depression and mental health before and after the 8-week trial. Physicians also took blood samples for transcriptional profiling before and after the KKM trial.

Meditation effects genes and reduces inflammation

The KKM meditation group had significantly less depressive symptoms and showed improvements in mental health. There were down-regulations in 49 genes and up-regulations in 19 genes compared to the controls. The pro-inflammatory NF-κB expression showed a decrease; the anti-viral gene expression showed an increase. This was measured using the IRF-1 gene. This gene controls the expression of the interferon-regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1 gene), which controls the immune response to viral infections. The interesting observation here was that a time of only 8 weeks of meditation was able to reduce inflammatory substances in the blood and could activate the immune system to fight viruses better. Further tests showed that it was meditation that stimulated the B cells and the dendritic cells.

6. Younger breast cancer patients

Younger breast cancer patients taking a mindfulness meditation course: Another study involved younger stable breast cancer patients after treatment that also had insomnia. Patients with both breast cancer and insomnia often have a lot of inflammatory markers in the blood. In a study with 80 patients 40 underwent treatment with Tai-Chi exercises, the other group of 40 with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Tai-Chi exercises reduced IL-6 marginally and TNF (tumor necrosis factor) significantly. There was a 9% reduction with regard to the expression of 19 genes that were pro-inflammatory; there was also a 3.4% increase with regard to 34 genes involved in regulating the antiviral and anti-tumor activity in the Tai-Chi group when compared to the cognitive-behavioral therapy group.

Measurable results of mindfulness meditation course

While cognitive therapy has its benefits, the winner was the Tai-Chi group where there was down-regulation of 68 genes and up-regulation of 19 genes. As in the prior study there was a decrease of the pro-inflammatory NF-κB expression, which reduced the inflammatory response.

7.  Study with fatigued breast cancer patients

In another breast cancer study with fatigued breast cancer patients the patients practiced 3 months of Iyengar yoga. After 3 months of yoga 282 genes showed up-regulation and 153 genes showed down-regulation. There was significant lowering of the expression of NF-κB. This suggests a lowering of inflammation. At the same time questionnaires showed that the fatigue factors experienced a reduction 3 months after initiating yoga exercises.

8. Mindful meditation used in younger breast cancer patients

A group of 39 breast cancer patients diagnosed before the age of 50 received six weekly 2-hour sessions of mindful awareness practices (MAP). This program is very suitable for cancer survivors. In addition to the group sessions the patients also did daily exercises of between 5 minutes and 20 minutes by themselves. The control group consisted of patients on a wait list. The investigators used several psychological measure (depression and stress) and physical measures (fatigue, hot flashes and pain) to assess their progress. Gene expression in the genome and inflammatory proteins were measured at baseline and after the intervention.

Effects of mindful awareness practices

Mindful practices showed clear benefits: they reduced stress, and sleep disturbances, hot flashes and fatigue showed improvement. Depression also shoed a marginal reduction. There were 19 pro-inflammatory genes that were mad ineffective, but not in the control group that did not do mindful practices. Gene tests revealed that transcription factor NF-κB had significant down-regulation. Conversely the anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid receptor and the interferon regulatory factors showed higher values. Genes with down-regulation came from monocytes and dendritic cells while genes with up-regulation came from B lymphocytes.

9. Telomerase gene expression

Lifestyle modification changes telomerase gene expression: 48 patients with high blood pressure enrolled in an extensive lifestyle program teaching them about losing weight, eating less sodium, exercising, adopting a healthy diet and drinking less alcohol. The other choice was to use transcendental meditation (TM) combined with health education with weekly sessions for 4 months. It turned out that both programs led to an increased expression of telomerase genes. Both groups did not show telomerase changes, but the authors stated that the observation time was too short for that to occur. The extensive health education program turned out to be better for patients with high blood pressure as it decreased the diastolic blood pressure more and resulted in healthier lifestyles.

10. Older patients with insomnia

Mind-body interventions for older patients with insomnia: Examiners divided a sample of 120 older adults with insomnia into two groups. They treated one group with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the other group with Tai Chi. The control group consisted of a group of people participating in a sleep seminar. 4 months after the intervention the CBT group had a significantly reduced C-reactive protein (CRP). The pro-inflammatory markers were lower in both groups after 2 months and in the Tai Chi group this remained low until 16 months. Gene expression profiling showed that CBT downregulated 347 genes and upregulated 191 genes; the Tai Chi group had downregulated 202 genes and upregulated 52 genes. The downregulated genes were mostly inflammatory genes while the upregulated genes controlled mostly interferon and antibody responses.

11. Patients with bowel disease

19 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and 29 patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) were treated with a relaxation response-based mind-body intervention. This consisted of 9 weekly meetings, each lasting 1.5 hours and practices a home for 15-20 minutes. The participants were taught breathing exercises and cognitive skills designed to help manage stress. At the end of the mind-body intervention and at a follow-up visit 3 weeks later participants of both the IBS and IBD groups scored higher in quality of life and lower in the level of anxiety they had before. They had reduced symptoms of their conditions.

Results of relaxation response-based mind-body intervention on IBS patients

The IBS group showed an improvement in 1059 genes. These were mostly improvements in inflammatory responses, in cell growth, regarding proliferation, and also improvements in oxidative stress-related pathways. The IBD group showed improvements in 119 genes that were related to cell cycle regulation and DNA damages. Other genetic tests showed that NF-κB was a key molecule for both IBS and IBD. The main finding was that relaxation response-based mind-body intervention was able to down regulate inflammation in both IBD and IBS.

12. Caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients receiving a course of MBSR

25 caregivers participated in a course of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). Using 194 differently expressed genes the investigators could predict who would be a poor, moderate or good responder to the MBSR intervention. These genes related to inflammation, depression and stress response. 91 genes could identify with an accuracy of 94.7% at baseline whether the person would receive psychological benefits from the MBSR program.

13. Higher state of consciousness in two experienced Buddha meditators

Genetic tests showed, similar to the description of other cases that genes affecting the immune system, cell death and the stress response experienced stimulation. EEG studies in both individuals during deep meditation were almost identical with an increase of theta and alpha frequency ranges.

14. Rapid gene expression in immune cells (lymphocytes) in the blood

One study used gentle yoga postures, meditation and breathing exercises. 10 participants recruited at a yoga camp had yoga experience between 1.5 months and 5 years. Their response resulted in 3-fold more gene changes than that of controls. Otherwise the findings were very similar to the other studies.

15. Genomic changes with the relaxation response

The relaxation response (RR) is the opposite of the stress response.  One study examined how various modes of entering into the relaxation response like yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and repetitive prayer would lead to beneficial gene effects. As in other studies inflammation was reduced and the immune system was stimulated from the relaxation response. This was verified with detailed gene studies. The authors noted that different genes were activated in people who had done long-term RR practice versus people who practiced RR only for a shorter time. There were distinctly different gene expressions.

16.  Energy metabolism and inflammation control

Relaxation responses beneficial for energy metabolism and inflammation control: Experts with experience in RR were compared with a group of novice RR practitioners. Experts and short-term practitioners expressed their genes differently at baseline. But after relaxation both experts and novices had gene changes in the area of energy metabolism, electron transport within the mitochondria, insulin secretion and cell aging. The upregulated genes are responsible for ATP synthase and insulin production. ATP synthase is responsible for energy production in the mitochondria and down regulates NF-κB pathway genes. Inflammation was reduced by these changes. All these beneficial gene changes were more prominent in expert RR practitioners. Other beneficial changes noted were telomere maintenance and nitric oxide production in both expert and novice RR practitioners.

17. Relaxation changes stress recovery and silences two inflammatory genes

Mindfulness meditation changes stress recovery and silences two inflammatory genes: Experienced meditators were tested after an intensive 8-h mindfulness meditation retreat workshop. Two inflammatory genes were silenced by mindfulness meditation compared to controls. Other genes that are involved in gene regulation were found to be downregulated as well. These experienced meditators had a faster cortisol recovery to social stress compared to controls.

18. Vacation and meditation effect on healing from disease

This last study investigated the effect of a 6-day holiday retreat. One group was offered a 4-day meditation course, one group was the control group just holidaying and the third group was an experienced meditation group who also took the retreat meditation course. Depression, stress, vitality, and mindfulness were measured with questionnaires. All groups were positively changed after the holiday and remained this way at 1 month after the retreat. 10 months after the retreat novice meditators were less depressed than the vacation control group. At the center of the experiment was the gene expression study.

Effects of holiday and meditation

390 genes had changed in all of the groups. The authors assumed that this was due to the relaxation experience of the retreat. The genes involved related to the stress response, wound healing, and injury. Other genes measured inflammation (control of tumor necrosis factor alpha). Another set of genes measured the control of protein synthesis of amyloid beta (Aβ) metabolism, which causes Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. All groups had markers that indicated less risk of dementia, depression and mortality, which was likely due to the relaxation from the retreat.

Relaxation Reduces Inflammation

Relaxation Reduces Inflammation

Conclusion

This study is a meta-analysis of 18 research papers. The authors found that very different approaches to relax the mind have fairly consistent universal effects on reducing inflammation. Most of this work was done with genetic markers. No matter what type of relaxation method you use, you will have beneficial effects from it. But the beneficial effect is not only strengthening the immune system, it also improves sleep, depression, anxiety and blood pressure. In addition it is improving your stress response, wound healing, risk of dementia and it reduces mortality. We don’t quite understand all of the details yet.

What is definitely documented is the effect of the mind-body interaction. It also points clearly to the relaxation response from meditation and similar relaxation methods. This has been proven beyond any doubt through genetic tests.

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May
20
2017

Prevention Of Telomere Shortening

Dr. Mark Rosenberg gave a talk on prevention of telomere shortening. This was presented at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. The detailed title was: “The Clinical Value of Telomere Testing”.

What are telomeres?

Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. They are very important in the aging process. Prematurely shortened telomeres are linked closely to all major diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and more. Telomeres are also a measure of the aging process. Aging occurs due to a decrease of the number of cells in organs and/or because of a lack of functioning of these organs. Telomeres get shortened every time a cell divides. But when the telomeres are used up, there comes a time when cells can no longer divide. These cells become senescent cells or they enter apoptosis (programmed cell death).

The senescent cells can become a problem when they get transformed into cancer cells and their telomeres lengthen again. These cancer cells divide rapidly and this can become the reason why cancer patients to die.

What is the significance of telomeres?

Telomere dysfunction is the first sign that the telomeres are getting shorter in a person compared to the average telomere length in a comparable age group. This is not only important for aging, but also has clinical implications. The shorter telomeres are, the higher the risk for cardiovascular disease. Telomere length also provides prognostic information about the mortality risk (risk of dying) with type 2 diabetes and for many cancers. Many physicians incorporate a telomere blood test into periodic health checks, if the patient can afford it.

Interventions that help telomere length

Here are a number of things we can do to lengthen our telomeres.

  1. Rosenberg mentioned that the strongest effect on telomere lengthening comes from caloric restriction and weight loss. 80 years ago they showed at the Cornell University that rats put on calorie restriction had a 30% increase in their mean and maximum lifespan. Many research papers have confirmed that the same is true in man and that the common denominator is telomere lengthening.
  2. Next are regular physical activity, meditation, reduction of alcohol consumption and stopping to smoke.
  3. Taking antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids regularly will also lengthen telomeres.
  4. Improving one’s dietary pattern by adopting a Mediterranean type diet that contains cold-pressed, virgin olive oil.
  5. Telomerase activators. Here is some background on the TA-65 telomerase activator, which is based on Chinese medicine. A one year trial was completed with 250 units and 1000 units of TA-65 per day. The lower dose (250 units) showed effective telomere lengthening, while the placebo dose did not. The 1000 unit dose did not show statistical significance.

Should you wish to take TA-65, only take 250 units per day, not more.

Cancer and telomeres

There is a strong correlation between cancer and telomere shortening. When cells are at the brink of dying toward the end of their life cycle the telomeres get shorter and shorter. This is the point where the cells can turn malignant. Certain genetic abnormalities help the malignant transformation, like 11q or 17q deletions or a p53-dependent apoptosis response. Once cancer cells have established themselves they activate telomerase in 85% of cases. In the remaining 15% of cancer cases telomeres are activated through telomerase-independent mechanisms. Here are a few examples.

CLL

CLL stands for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is a disease of the aging population. At age 90 people’s bone marrow cells have a telomere length of only 50% of the length at birth. This is the reason that in older age CLL is more common. Researchers observed a population segment and found that the shorter telomeres were, the poorer the overall prognosis and overall survival for CLL was.

Lung cancer

Researchers examined the telomerase activity in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. When telomerase activity was present, the 5-year survival was only 55%. When telomerase activity was absent, the prognosis was 90% survival after 5 years.

Prostate cancer

  1. Prostate cancer risk correlated with telomere shortening in stromal cells. Men with shorter telomere length in stromal cells had a 266% higher risk of death compared to men with normal telomere length.
  2. Another study took blood samples and determined the telomere length in lymphocytes (the immune cells). Those men who came down with prostate cancer within a year after they had their blood sample, had short telomeres. The risk for prostate cancer in these patients was 355% higher than in the prostate cancer negative controls.

Yet another study looked at surgical tissue samples from 596 men that

Underwent surgery for clinically localized prostate cancer. Patients whose samples showed variable telomere lengths in prostate cancer cells and shorter telomeres compared to prostate samples with less variable telomere length and longer telomeres had a much poorer prognosis. They had 8-times the risk to progress to lethal prostate cancer. And they had 14-times the risk of dying from their prostate cancer.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is diverse and consists of cases whose origins are genetic (BRCA1 and BRCA2), but there are also cases where the cancer is local or has a higher stage. In families with mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 telomeres are significantly shorter than in spontaneous breast cancer. Increased telomerase activity in breast cancer cases is directly related to how invasive and aggressive the breast cancer is.

  1. In one study researchers analyzed blood leukocytes in 52 patients with breast cancer for telomere length  versus 47 control patients. Average telomere length was significantly shorter in patients with a more advanced stage of breast cancer than in early breast cancer. Mutated HER patients had the shortest telomeres. It follows from this that checking for the HER status and blood telomere testing adds to the knowledge of potential cancer development and prognosis.
  2. In patients with with larger breast tumors, more lymph node metastases and more vascular invasion the researchers found short telomere length of the cancer cells.
  3. More aggressive breast cancer cells have higher telomerase activity. More than 90% of triple negative breast cancers have short telomeres.

CNS disorders and telomeres

Dr. Rosenberg presented evidence for a correlation between shorter telomeres and the development of dementia. But dementias with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer’s disease are also linked to short leukocyte telomeres. The length of blood telomeres predicts how well stroke patients will do and how people with depression will respond to antidepressants.

Cardiovascular disease and telomeres

The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system controls our blood pressure and keeps it constant. When this system is not stable, our blood pressure shoots up and causes cardiovascular disease. This is tough for the heart, as it has to pump harder against a higher-pressure gradient. A study of 1203 individuals was examining the connection between leukocyte telomere length and renin, aldosterone and angiotensin II activity. It concluded that oxidative stress and inflammatory responses affect the telomere length of leukocytes and that the more stress there is in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, the more cardiovascular disease develops. The conclusion of the study was that the overall cardiovascular stress leads to shortening of leukocyte telomeres.

Prevention Of Telomere Shortening

Prevention Of Telomere Shortening

Conclusion

Telomere length testing from a simple blood test will become a more important test in the future as hopefully the cost comes down (currently about 300$). It can predict the general aging status by comparing a single case to the general telomere length of the public. But it can also predict the cancer risk, risk for mental disease and cognitive deficits (Alzheimer’s disease). In addition your cardiovascular status correlated globally with this test. What are the options for the patient, if the test comes back with short telomeres?

It allows you to change your lifestyle and adopt a healthy diet. You can exercise regularly, take antioxidants and meditate. There are even telomerase activators that are gradually becoming more known. They lengthen the telomeres. The cost of telomerase activators will likely still be a problem for some time. All in all telomere length tests are here to stay, but healthy lifestyle choices are the only tool for effective intervention at this point. This is good news: healthy lifestyle choices like non-smoking, exercise and avoiding non-processed foods are either free or have a reasonable price tag. Telomerase activators are big business and at this point not really affordable!

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May
13
2017

Results Of Insomnia Studies

Results of insomnia studies are focusing on all angles of insomnia. We know for some time that the circadian rhythm is linked to deep REM sleep, which we only reach about 2 hours into our nightly sleep. There are several reasons why our normal sleep pattern can get disrupted.

1. Night owls have a CRY1 mutation

A recent publication on March 27, 2017 has detected a mutation of the human circadian clock called CRY1. This is a dominant gene that is responsible for delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). People with this genetic feature tend to go to sleep 2 hours later than the average person every day.

It occurs between 0.2% and 10% in the general population and is inherited by the autosomal dominant mode.

This gene is responsible for the phenomenon of persons being “night owls”.

2. Sleep deprivation in nursing homes

Another publication has zeroed in to what happens in the frail elderly who live in nursing homes.

Here is what sleep researchers have found out about nursing homes.

  • Older people also need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, not less as previously thought.
  • Let people sleep at night, and give them undisturbed sleep. The practice of waking them up every 2 hours is unnecessary and undermines a restful sleep with normal amounts of REM sleep.
  • The color of light matters: Blue/purple light coming from TVs, iPod’s, laptops or cell phones stimulates serotonin production that wakes you up. In contrast to this orange/red light stimulates melatonin production that facilitates sleep. A nursing home owner, Guildermann said: “We have made it darker at night, and what light they do have is orange/amber/red light, and we are having phenomenal results.”
  • Sleep, exercise and nutrition are the biggest components of health.

3. Night workers

One of the news stories in 2016 was about health risks of night shifts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2000 that 15 million workers (16.8 % of the working population) were doing alternative shifts (night shift work mixed with daytime shifts). In 2016 they reported 14.8% were working alternate shifts. Among blacks, Asians and Latino Americans the percentage of working alternative shifts was higher, namely 20.8%, 15.7% and 16%, respectively.

Effect of shift work on your diurnal hormone rhythm

Shift work is more common in certain industries, such as protective services like the police force, food services, health services and transportation.

Your body rewards you, when you sleep 7 to 8 hours during the night, but it will penalize you severely, if you turn it upside down. The reason is the diurnal hormone rhythm that we all have built in. Sleep is regulated by melatonin during the night, which is released by the pineal gland (on the base of the skull). Daytime wakefulness is regulated by the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands. These two hormones inhibit each other, cortisol inhibits melatonin and melatonin inhibits cortisol. All the other hormones are also regulated according to the diurnal rhythm: testosterone, for instance is highest in the morning, human growth hormone is highest between midnight and 3 AM.

Studies about the effects of shift work

There are examples of what happens when you do shift work for several years:

  1. A) A Swedish study found that white-collar shift workers had a 260% higher mortality compared to a control group of daytime white collar workers: Shift work and mortality.
  2. B) A study compared night workers in the age group of 45 to 54 with daytime workers and found a 147% higher mortality rate in the night shift workers: Shift Workers’ Mortality Scrutinized. Shift workers work at night and sleep during the day. This can be done, but it is against the physiology of your body, as I explained above. Remember that melatonin does not only regulate your sleep, it also is one of the main stimulant hormones of the immune system. If you manipulate your diurnal hormone rhythm by staying awake during the night and sleeping during the day, you pay the price by an increased risk of mortality (increased risk of death). I think this is not worth it!

4. What to do when you cannot sleep?

The first step is to take 3mg to 5mg of melatonin at bedtime. It should be taken between 10PM and 11PM. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for melatonin to take effect. If you do not fall asleep within that time frame you are likely thinking too much! Relaxation before going to sleep should be part of your evening ritual. It can happen that we experience demanding, stressful days, and despite all better effort, it is difficult to be entirely relaxed. After demanding days like that I would recommend taking 1 or 2 capsules of valerian (500 mg strength) from the health food store. This combined with the melatonin should help in more than 80%-90% of insomnia cases.

Medical tests and sleep studies

If you cannot sleep, see your physician. Sleep studies may be required or you may have problems of the thyroid (hypo- or hyperthyroidism), which may need to be checked. Other medical problems including depression have to be checked out as well. Melatonin and valerian are safe. Other sleeping pills have multiple side effects including memory problems the next day or the feeling of a mild hangover.

5. Telomeres and insomnia

Some people have no problem disciplining themselves to go to sleep between 10PM and 11 PM, which seems to be the window of opportunity to catch a good night’s sleep. Others are so used to do their late night activities (reading, watching TV, being online, going to the pub etc.) that they finally drop into bed at 1 or 2 AM. People need 7 to 8 hours of good sleep; even hard-core party goers need to get that much sleep. Nature does not make exceptions! When you go to bed only at 1AM or 2AM, it is difficult to get enough sleep.

Healthy telomeres with healthy sleep pattern

It is true that you can suffer multiple health problems, as all of your hormones depend on the resetting during your deepest sleep between 2AM and 4AM triggered by the nighttime melatonin response. Even your telomeres, the caps of chromosomes in every cell get shortened from too much stress and too little sleep. Shortened telomeres mean a shortened life span. The reason for this is that people with shortened telomeres develop heart attacks, strokes and cancer. This is what shortens the life span. How do we avoid this risk? Go back to healthy sleep habits. As mentioned above it is best to start going to sleep between 10 PM and 11 PM and sleep for 7 to 8 hours.

6. Electronics in the bedroom

There is new research showing that electronics in the bedroom can interfere with a normal sleep pattern. Dr. Ben Carter is the lead author and a senior lecturer in biostatistics at King’s College London. He completed a study involving 125,198 children with an average age of 14½ years. There were about equal amounts of males and females. Both sexes had the same problem. Allowing the use of electronic media interfered with their sleep time. What electronic devices are we talking about? Watching TV, using the computer, the cell phone, tablets and computer games. The study was originally published at JAMA Pediatrics.

The blue/purple light of the TV screen or a computer screen stimulates the brain to produce serotonin. This undermines the melatonin production and as a result the person finds it extremely difficult to fall asleep.

What contributes to better sleep habits

Here is a list that contributes to better sleep habits and better sleep quality:

Sleep friendly environment in the bedroom

Ensure that the bedroom is dark, soundproof, and comfortable with the room temperature being not too warm. It is important to develop a “sleep hygiene”. This means going to sleep around the same time each night, to have some down time of 1 hour or so before going to bed and getting up after the average time of sleep (for most people between 7 to 9 hours). Sleeping in is not a solution, and an alarm clock will also help to develop a sleep routine.

Avoid stimulating drinks, drugs and nicotine

You need to avoid caffeine drinks, alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs. Smokers should butt out no later than 7PM, as nicotine is a stimulant.

Adopt a regular exercise program

Getting into a regular exercise program, either at home or at a gym is beneficial.

No heavy meal at night

Avoid a heavy meal late at night. A light snack including some warm milk would be OK.

No computer in the bedroom

It is not a sensible idea to use the bedroom as an office, reading place or media center. It stimulates by cortisol production, which keeps us awake. The bedroom is a place of rest and should be comfortable and relaxing.

What to do when waking up at night

Some sleepers wake up at night, and they are wide-awake! Leaving the bedroom and relaxing in the living room for a while can help. It goes without saying that playing video games will not help! An alternative is to take 3 mg of melatonin, which will helps to fall asleep faster, but melatonin will wear off after about 4 hours.

Self-hypnosis recording

A self-hypnosis recording is a useful adjunct to a sleep routine. Listening to it before going to sleep helps to focus on relaxation and to stop ruminating about the day and its events. Keep the volume low.

Results Of Insomnia Studies

Results Of Insomnia Studies

Conclusion

Recent results of insomnia studies have reconfirmed that we need our regular sleep to maintain our health. We have seen that some nursing homes have a practice of waking the client up every 2 hours. Nursing homes must abandoned this as it interferes with the restorative deep REM sleep. In turn this will interfere with hormone restoration overnight.

Children and adolescents must limit their time in front of the TV, iPhones and computer screens. The blue light has the frequency that over stimulates the brain and interferes with melatonin production. Some people work overnight as shift workers or party until the wee hours in the morning. This causes your telomeres in your body cells to shorten. As people restore their sleeping pattern to normal, the telomeres length will remain stable.

Important to restore normal sleep pattern

Even people who are night owls due to an inborn CRY1 gene that is responsible for delayed sleep phase disorder can normalize their sleep pattern by following a strict sleep hygiene. As people get older they lose the ability to make melatonin, but they can counter this by taking melatonin tablets at bedtime.

Remember what I said earlier: Sleep, regular exercise and good nutrition are the biggest components of health.

Jan
21
2017

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Matthew Andry, MD talked about the effects of metformin on the gut microbiome. He delivered his talk at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. The congress took place from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11, 2016 in Las Vegas. A lot of the sessions that I attended dealt with the gut flora and how it affects our health. This talk belongs to the theme of what a healthy gut microbiome can do for us.

History of metformin

Dr. Andry is a clinical associate professor of the Indiana School of Medicine. He pointed out that metformin is in use for a long time for type 2 diabetes, particularly, if fasting insulin levels are high. Metformin is a biguanide. It seems like it was isolated from French lilac (also known as Goats Rue). As a matter of fact in the middle ages physicians used this herb to treat “thirst and urination”. In retrospect we probably recognize these as symptoms of diabetes. Chemists were able to synthesize the active ingredient in this herb in the 1920’s.

Metformin reduces blood sugar without raising insulin levels

At that time it got the name metformin. Dr. Jean Stern was able to show in the 1950’s in clinical studies that Glucophage, the brand name of metformin was able to reduce blood sugar without raising insulin levels. Between 1977 and 1997 metformin enjoyed wide spread acceptance for treating diabetics. Most noteworthy, several clinical investigators demonstrated that diabetic patients on metformin lived longer and had less heart attacks than patients who receive other treatments.

Metformin is the first-line drug in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in children and adults. It is very popular with physicians who prescribe this drug throughout the world with 120 million prescriptions per year.

Off-label use of metformin

Metformin is beneficial for many other clinical conditions. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis are a few examples of off-label use of metformin. In addition, metformin is also in use as an anti-aging agent as it elongates telomeres, which helps people to live longer. Equally important, researchers also found that metformin is a possible cancer prevention agent. In prostate cancer it was found to have an effect against prostate cancer stem cells. Not to mention that without these cells prostate cancer does not recur after surgical removal.

Action of metformin

For the reason that metformin increases the action of an enzyme, AMPK, this leads to lipid oxidation and breakdown of fatty tissue (catabolism). Furthermore, in the liver metformin inhibits the metabolic pathway of making sugar from fatty acids, called gluconeogenesis. Also, metformin causes increased uptake of sugar into skeletal muscle tissue. This is the reason for the stabilization of blood sugar. Then, metformin has two beneficial effects on the liver. First it stabilizes insulin sensitivity. This means that a given amount of insulin has a larger effect on the liver. Secondly metformin decreases the toxic effect of fatty acids on the liver tissue. In other words metformin has a healing effect on non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a precursor to fatty liver and liver cirrhosis.

Metformin suppresses appetite

Metformin also has an effect on the appetite center in the brain. It helps many obese and overweight people, but not all to lose weight. The mechanism for that effect is in the hypothalamus, where the appetite center is located. Metformin inhibits the neuropeptide Y gene expression in the hypothalamus leading to reduced appetite.

Finally, metformin also normalizes the gut flora. This last point was the main focus of Dr. Andry’s talk.

Metformin and the gut

An animal experiment on mice showed in a study published in 2014 that metformin was stimulating the growth of a beneficial gut bacterium, Akkermansia. This is a mucin-degrading bacterium. But it also affects the metabolism of the host. The authors found that metformin increased the mucin-producing goblet cells.

Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria were fed to one group of mice. This group was on a high fat diet, but not on metformin. The mice showed control of their blood sugars, as did the metformin group. In other words manipulation of the gut flora composition could achieve control of the diabetic metabolism. The authors concluded that pharmacological manipulation of the gut microbiota using metformin in favor of Akkermansia might be a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Effect of metformin on the gut flora

Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria comprise 3%-5% of the gut flora. It does not form spores and is strictly anaerobe, in other words oxygen destroys it. This is the reason why it is difficult to take it as a supplement. It is mostly growing in the mucous of the epithelium layer of the gut. The colon and to a lesser degree the small intestine of all mammalian species including the human race contain the highest number of Akkermansia bacteria.

Here are the effects of metformin on Akkermansia:

  • Metformin increases the Akkermansia bacteria count both in a Petri dish as well as in the gut of experimental mice. This suggests that metformin acts like a growth factor for Akkermansia.
  • Metformin increased the count of Akkermansia bacteria by 18-fold up to a maximum of 12.44% (up from the normal 3-5%) of all of the gut bacteria.
  • Researchers observed that the mucin layer of the lining of the gut in metformin treated mice was thicker. This suggests that the thickness of the mucin layer plays a role in increasing the Akkermansia count.

Effect of the gut on the body’s metabolism

Other researchers have investigated how a high fat diet can change the composition of the gut bacteria, which in turn are altering the body’s metabolism. Essentially a shift in the bowel flora can increase the gut’s permeability. The medical term for this is “leaky gut syndrome”. It leads to absorption of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from bad bacteria in the gut. The end result is endotoxemia in the blood. This causes systemic inflammation in the body. Insulin resistance and obesity develop and often at a later date type 2 diabetes develops. It is interesting to note that often a high fat diet leads to these changes. But increasing Akkermansia bacteria in the gut or treating the patient with metformin can reverse this process.

An interesting mouse experiment showed that the changes that take place in the gut bacteria with cold exposure could be transferred to germ-free mice with no gut flora. This changed their metabolism proving that gut bacteria have profound influences on the metabolism. The fact that the gut bacteria have a profound influence on the metabolism is not only true for animals, but also for humans.

Akkermansia Facts

Here are a few facts about the Akkermansia bacteria.

  • The amounts of Akkermansia bacteria in the gut are inversely related to how fat we are. This is measured by the body mass index (BMI). Fat people have less Akkermansia in their guts.
  • A high fat diet lowers the amount of Akkermansia in the gut
  • Systemic inflammation is present with low Akkermansia counts
  • A high fat diet causes gut permeability (leaky gut syndrome).
  • Appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease can be caused by low levels of Akkermansia.
  • Fat storage (both in subcutaneous fat and visceral fat) can be caused by low levels of Akkermansia.
  • Low levels of Akkermansia cause insulin resistance (associated with diabetes) and high blood sugars.
  • Brown fat’s ability to burn calories increased when Akkermansia was increased , which leads to weight loss.
  • Decreased Akkermansia counts lead to fat storage (weight gain).
  • Gut-barrier integrity improves when Akkermansia increased
  • Increased Akkermansia reduces visceral and total body fat
  • Synthesis of sugar in the liver (gluconeogenesis) reduces when Akkermansia is increased

We have 10 times more bacteria in the gut than we have cells in our body. The Akkermansia percentage of the gut flora can be decreased from antibiotics or food that contains traces of antibiotics. If there is a lack of Akkermansia species, there is more gut permeability, causing LPS increase and causing increase of inflammation in the body. This translates into high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or MS. But it can also cause inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases.

What increases Akkermansia?

We can increase Akkermansia bacteria in the gut by eating Oligofructose-enriched prebiotics. Oligofructose belongs into the inulin type soluble fibers. It is found in a variety of vegetables and plants. This includes onions, garlic, chicory, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, navy beans and wheat. But wheat can be problematic. Clearfield wheat is the modern wheat variety which is now grown worldwide. It is much richer in gluten and can cause problems with gut permeability.

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit will give you enough of oligofructose to maintain a healthy percentage of Akkermansia in your gut bacteria.

Metformin as pointed out earlier can is in use as pharmacotherapy. But I must emphasize that the use of metformin for dysmetabolic syndrome is off-label. There are real side effects of metformin. Lactic acidosis with an unusual tiredness, dizziness and severe drowsiness can develop. Also chills, muscle pain, blue/cold skin and fast/difficult breathing can occur. Slow/irregular heartbeat, vomiting, or diarrhea, stomach pains with nausea are other side effects.

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Conclusion

Our gut bacteria are important for us, more so than you may be aware of. An anaerobe bacterium, Akkermansia makes up 3%-5% of the gut flora. This bacterium lives in the mucous layer of the lining of the gut and ensures that the gut wall is tight. When these bacteria are lacking (due to consumption of junk foods) the gut wall becomes leaky, which is why this condition has the name “leaky gut syndrome”. Irritating toxic substances can now leak into the blood stream and lipopolysaccharides are among them. This causes inflammation in the gut wall, but can go over into the blood vessels and the rest of the body including the brain. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or MS can develop from the inflammation. But it may also cause inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases.

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit will give you enough of oligofructose to maintain a healthy percentage of Akkermansia in your gut bacteria. In particular, onions, garlic, chicory, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes and navy beans provide lots of oligofructose to support Akkermansia in your gut bacteria.

As pointed out earlier metformin as a drug is in use to treat dysmetabolic syndrome. I need to emphasize that the use of metformin is off-label. It is also important to remember, that with effects there are side effects of metformin.

It may be news to you, how our overall health depends so much on the health of the gut. With the knowledge that food can be your medicine, choose your foods wisely. Add some or all of the above named foods that help you support beneficial gut bacteria, and take care of your health!

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