Mar
07
2020

Eat Right for a Long Life

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

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

Prevention of diseases

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

Vitamins and magnesium

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

Brassica vegetables

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

The gut microbiome

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

An unhealthy diet causes disease

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

Importance of fiber

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

The best diet

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

Eat Right for a Long Life

Conclusion

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

What foods to eat

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

 

Jul
13
2019

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

new study has shown that you can save lives when you replace red meat and processed red meat. The replacement was with fish, poultry or protein from vegetables. The study appeared in the British Medical Journal on June 12, 2019. It involved 53,553 women nurses and 27,916 male doctors in the United States and ran from 1986 to 2010. Every 4 years comprehensive diet sheets were compiled on each of the participants. Death rates of all of the clinical trial participants were also recorded. The amount of red meat or processed red meat servings, which the participants consumed per day was recorded. One serving of red meat is 3.5 ounces or 100 grams.

Results of the BMJ study

People consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of red meat more per day over 8 years, had an increased mortality. It was increased by 9% over the following 8 years. Similarly, people consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of processed red meat over 8 years, were in trouble. They had an increased mortality of 13% over the next 8 years. The researchers also found that when people ate less red meat and processed red meat, things normalized. Their mortality returned to a normal rate. Also, when people replaced red meat with fish, poultry and vegetables, the mortality figures went down as well.

Red meat consumption in the literature

The researchers reviewed the literature regarding disease risk and mortality with meat consumption. In particular, the researcher had an interest in increased red meat consumption and consumption of processed red meat. Other investigators mentioned that there was an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and other cancers.  In addition, cardiovascular disease and increased overall mortality were up with meat consumption. The worst variety of processed foods are bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. Certain lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart heart failure are directly related to consumption of red meat or processed red meat products. Hypertension also has a link to red meat consumption. Components of red processed meats such as saturated fats, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, preservatives and sodium can cause colorectal cancer and at the same time cause cardiovascular disease.

More details about the study

There were 8426 deaths among the nurses branch of the study. 3138 nurses died from cancer, 1774 from cardiovascular disease, 939 from neurodegenerative diseases, 751 from respiratory diseases, and 1824 from other causes. In the same time period (24 years) there were 5593 deaths among the males of the Health Professionals follow-up study. 1754 died from cardiovascular disease, 1754 from cancer. There were 434 deaths from respiratory diseases, 375 from neurodegenerative diseases, and 1276 from other causes.

Red meat consumption in women has decreased by 31% in the past 24 years. Men have cut back their red meat consumption by 11% in the same time period.

One subgroup of patients decreased their red meat consumption and replaced it with a higher intake of nuts, poultry (without skin), fish, dairy, eggs, whole grains and vegetables over 8 years. They had a lower death rate than the controls over the next 10 years.

Discussion of the BMJ study

The authors mentioned that a Japanese study found no increased mortality among 51,683 Japanese men and women eating red meat, poultry, processed meat and liver. There were 20,466 men and 31,217 women, aged 40-79 years. The study lasted for almost 16 years. There were 2685 deaths due 537 ischemic heart diseases and 1209 strokes. The investigators had traced how much meat the participants ate. They did not find any change in mortality up to 100 grams per day of beef or other meat consumption. I will discuss this further below.

Hormones and antibiotics may be partially responsible for higher mortality in the US

Dr. Valter Longo, professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California and director of the USC Longevity Institute was not part of the study. He commented: “The lower or lack of association between red meat intake and mortality in other countries or areas of the world indicates that red meat may contribute to mortality in the United States by providing a high protein content but also because it may contain other factors that contribute to damage.“ He also questioned certain agricultural practices where hormones and antibiotics are in use in the raising of beef cattle in the US. This is not the case in Japan or Europe. He went on to say: “The reduced mortality, when red meat is replaced with fish, is consistent with this possibility since they contain generally similar levels of proteins”.

Use of antibiotics in cattle farming

The accepted practice of using antibiotics not only for treating infections, but also for accelerating growth in beef cattle has far-reaching ramifications.  The problem is that use of antibiotics in milk cows produces milk with antibiotic residues. In beef cattle antibiotic residue are also in the meat of these cows.

The question arose whether or not the use of antibiotics in cattle would possibly cause resistance to antibiotics in humans. This publication examines this question. It comes to the conclusion that the probability of resistant strains of bacteria in humans as a result of the feeding of antibiotics to cows in the US would be small. However, there is another aspect that only recently has gained attention. It is the change of the gut biome in humans as a result of antibiotic residues from the standard agricultural practices of raising cattle.

Change of the human gut biome

Meat eaters have raised TMAO blood levels

The human gut flora can change for various reasons. But once it has changed, it often stays in an altered state. It is a permanent change in bowel flora that can cause chemical reactions in the gut with the consumption of beef and eggs. Beef contains carnitine, which can lead to the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). Egg yolk contains choline, which also raises TMAO levels in the blood.

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

Changed gut flora causes raised TMAO levels

The use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the US beef industry is the standard practice for raising beef. But this has led to antibiotic residues that are detectable in the laboratory. When a person eats beef that is contaminated with antibiotic residues, the bowel flora loses its diversity of bacteria in the gut. This leads to an accumulation of other bacteria that produce TMAO in the presence of beef or egg yolk and can cause cardiovascular disease on the one hand and cancer on the other. This happens over time.

Discussion

The answer as to why US beef is causing colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease is directly related to the practice of using antibiotics as growth promoters. The use of antibiotics in the beef industry leads to a change in the gut flora in humans consuming this meat. Bacteria that can produce TMAO are now having the upper hand. In the US people produce more TMAO in response to beef consumption as the study mentioned has shown. The Japanese study cited above showed no sign of cardiovascular mortality when people consumed up to 100 gram (one serving) of meat per day over 16 years.

Antibiotics as growth promoters outlawed in Japan and Europe

The reason is that in Japan, as well as in Europe the use of antibiotics as growth promoters are illegal. When humans consume meat in Japan or Europe the original gut flora stays intact with no production of TMAO. Incidentally, the same is true for organic grass-fed meat in the US, which has no antibiotic residues in it. Recently there was a publication from Denmark that suggested to replace some of the beef consumption by low mercury fish.The authors of that study said that this will reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Conclusion

A new study in the British Medical Journal showed that an increase in red meat consumption of only ½ serving per day for 8 years caused an increased mortality of 9% over the following 8 years. With regard to processed red meat the mortality was even bigger, namely 13%. The researchers replaced some of the meat with white chicken meat or vegetables and the mortality normalized.

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

Using antibiotics as growth promoters illegal in Japan and Europe

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

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

Jun
15
2019

Replacing Part Of Red Meat With Fish Shows Health Benefits

A Danish study has shown that replacing part of red meat with fish shows health benefits.

The research was done by a PhD student and pointed out that men above the age of 50 were particularly benefitting from fish substituting part of red meat in their diet. Women in the childbearing age also benefitted greatly. On this diet pregnant women as well as the unborn children become healthier.

Risk versus benefit analysis

Sofie Theresa Thomsen, the PhD student who conducted this study did risk-benefit assessments regarding partial substitution of beef with low-mercury fish. Red and processed meat contains saturated fat, which is added to the other saturated fat in the Danish diet. Red meat and processed meats have been associated with colorectal cancer and some other cancers. But red meat also contains beneficial iron. In contrast, fish contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and also contains vitamin D. But one has to be careful about methylmercury content in fish. I reviewed fish, mercury contamination and the benefits in this link.

In her calculations Sofie Theresa Thomsen replaced 350 grams of beef per week with 350 grams of low-mercury fish per week.

If all the Danish households would do this partial beef/fish exchange, the Danes would gain 7,000 healthy years of life annually. This includes, among other health conditions, the prevention of 170 deaths from coronary heart disease.

What kind of fish can you eat?

As the link above shows, there are low, medium and high methylmercury contaminated fish. The higher the fish is in the predator chain, the higher the methylmercury content. This is of particular concern for pregnant women as mercury is toxic for the fetal brain tissue. But they consume low mercury fish and shellfish, like mackerel, herring, wild salmon, shrimps or clams, pregnant women benefit greatly from the beef/fish exchange. Tuna is too high in methylmercury to be included in the beef/fish exchange. If you were to include tuna in this, you would experience a health loss.

Vitamin D and iron

The study showed further that a partial exchange of beef by fish would reduce the number of Danes who are vitamin D deficient. The 350 grams of fish per week are sufficient to significantly raise the vitamin D blood level. Conversely, replacing a part of the beef intake with fish does not cause iron deficiency problems.

Who benefits most from replacing part of red meat by fish?

Sofie Theresa Thomsen asked who would benefit most from such a beef/fish exchange diet.

On the one hand it is the older than 50 year male population who is at a significant risk of developing heart attacks. The fatty fish with omega-3 fatty acids reverses some of the plaque in the arteries and keeps coronary arteries open. This prevents heart attacks and strokes.

On the other hand pregnant women and their children benefit greatly from the beef/fish exchange diet. The women will feel more energy and their offspring will have healthy brains.

Replacing Part Of Red Meat With Fish Shows Health Benefits

Replacing Part Of Red Meat With Fish Shows Health Benefits

Conclusion

A study from Denmark analyzed what happens when a person exchanges 350 grams of beef with low mercury fish or shellfish per week. The conclusion was that Danes would gain 7,000 healthy years of life annually. Among these is the prevention of 170 deaths from coronary heart disease. But the most lives saved would be among men older than 50 years due to heart attack and stroke prevention. Pregnant women are also benefitting tremendously, not only for themselves, but for their children. The fish needs to be low mercury fish, as mentioned above, as mercury is a central nervous system toxin. Tuna is too high in mercury.

I have cut out red meat and meat products from my diet since 2015, when the WHO came out with the statement that red meat causes colorectal cancer. As a result I eat a lot more low mercury seafood and shellfish.

Sep
15
2018

Moderate Carb Intake Has The Lowest Mortality

A 25-year long study has shown that a moderate carb intake has the lowest mortality. A comprehensive study from the US has followed more than 15,000 men and women for 25 years. They were between 45-64 years when they entered the study and they were from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The authors chose mortality as an end point. Dr. Sara Seidelmann is a clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She was the lead author of this study. The research group used food questionnaires and analyzed the carb content in the food. They also determined what percentage of the food composition was of animal origin or plant origin.

Research study finds moderate carb intake has the lowest mortality

The main findings of the study were that less than 40% of carbs in the diet led to an increased death rate with a mortality of between 1.4-fold and 1.8-fold. On the other hand, more than 70% of carbs in the diet also had increased mortality rates of 1.2-fold. The lowest mortality was in the group that consumed a diet where carbs were between 50% and 55%. Dr. Seidelmann explained that in terms of life expectancy the result of the study could be summarized as follows. A 50-year-old person had another 33 years to live when carb intake was in the moderate range. The low-carb person had only another 29 years to live (4 years less than the moderate carb person). The high-carb person lived another 32 years, 1 year less than the moderate carb person.

Plant-derived versus animal-derived fat and protein

The study showed that there was increased longevity when carbohydrates were exchanged for proteins and fats from plant sources. Mortality was 18% less for this group. Conversely, when carbs were replaced for animal-derived fat or protein mortality was 18% more!

Dr. Seidelmann noted that this study was coming from a US based population. In the case of an Asian group they would consume much more carbs on average, but they would replace a lot of the animal fat and protein with fish. Fish is a healthier source of protein and fat than beef or pork.

A moderate carb intake group that used protein and fat from animal sources was compared to plant sources. When protein and fat had the origin from lamb, beef, pork, and chicken the mortality over 25 years was higher. When protein and fat came from vegetables, such as nuts, peanut butter, seeds and whole-grain breads there was a lower mortality rate.

Other studies comparing the effect of animal protein versus plant protein

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

 

  1. Red meat is cancer-producing. Several studies have shown this. When red meat is digested, cancer-causing substances are released that can be the cause of cancer in the lining of the stomach and the colon. The above link says we should limit red meat consumption to 65 grams (2oz.) per day or 2 servings (130 grams or 4 oz.) 3 to 4 times per week. We should avoid eating more than 455 grams (1 pound) of lean red meat per week.

Triglycerides are an independent risk factor for heart attacks

In this publication evidence is also present that triglycerides are an independent risk factor that can cause heart attacks.

When you eat too many carbs, the body produces the excess you don’t need into triglycerides, and it deposits its subsequently as fat in fatty tissue.  Physical activity burns up some of the triglycerides. But when we eat too much refined sugar and starchy foods, there will be an excess of triglycerides putting our blood vessels and our hearts at risk.

Regular exercise prevents disease and premature deaths

Many studies have shown that regular exercise prevents heart attacks and premature deaths. We even know the mechanism of why this is so. Exercise releases nitric oxide ((NO) from our blood vessels, which widens the arteries. This also prevents high blood pressure. Exercise elevates the protective HDL cholesterol. When regular exercisers were compared to a non-active group they had a 41% lower risk of death. All-cause hospitalizations were down by 21% and cardiac hospitalizations were down 32%.

Discussion

  1. Barry Sears is the inventor of the Zone Diet. I attended a lecture in 2001 at an Anti-Aging Conference in San Diego. Dr. Sears was the keynote speaker at this conference. He stressed that a diet with 55% of complex carbs would be the best diet. It is interesting that Dr. Seidelmann in the study mentioned in beginning of this blog found the same thing. The lowest mortality was in the group that consumed a diet where carbs were between 50% and 55%.
  2. The second point that is important to note is that it matters whether we eat protein derived from animals or from plants. Even small steps help. When we reduce our animal protein intake by only 3% of the energy intake, and replace it by plant protein, there is a significant reduction in mortality.
  3. Exercise is rarely mentioned in relation to diets. But exercise needs to be included every day and you will experience a reduction of cardiac hospitalizations of 32% as mentioned above.
Moderate Carb Intake Has The Lowest Mortality

Moderate Carb Intake Has The Lowest Mortality

Conclusion

A moderate carb intake, as is the case in the Mediterranean diet and in the Zone Diet of Barry Sears, has the lowest mortality rate. Complex carbs (in vegetables) are absorbed much slower. As a result the risk for heart attacks is much lower. The opposite is true for refined carbs from sugar. They cause heart attacks and strokes with premature mortality. Dr. Sara Seidelmann led a study at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that lasted 25 years. Less than 40% of carbs in the diet led to an increased death rate with a mortality of between 1.4-fold and 1.8-fold. These diets are paleo-type diets, the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet. More than 70% of carbs in the diet also had increased mortality rates of 1.2-fold.

The healthiest diet

People who consumed a diet where carbs were between 50% and 55% had the lowest mortality rate (Zone Diet). Another finding of this study, which was confirmed by others is that animal-based protein is unhealthier than plant-based protein. Even replacing 3% of energy from an animal-based diet with plant-derived protein delayed mortality significantly.

If you want to live longer and stay healthy you need to critically evaluate what you eat.

Jun
03
2017

Fish, The Good And The Bad

I am going to review fish, the good and the bad. Fish can be very nutritious, because it contains a lot of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But because of pollution it also has various degrees of mercury, PBC’s and other impurities.

I will discuss the good about fish oil first. Later we will learn that wild salmon is one of the best fish to eat, while we should avoid tuna due to mercury pollution.

The good about fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, also called marine oil, is an essential fatty acid. It balances omega-6 fatty acids of which we eat too much. Processed foods are full of omega-6 fatty acids, because they keep a long time on the grocery shelves without turning rancid. But when the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is getting higher than 3:1 we are experiencing a problem. The body stimulates the arachidonic acid pathway, a metabolic pathway that produces inflammatory substances and arthritis. An old home remedy for arthritis is to use fish oil (cod liver oil). It changes the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio back to more normal levels, which can help arthritis patients. Early stage of arthritis can even heal.

Omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation

Many processed foods contain only omega-6 fatty acids, because this is the cheapest way to produce them (they are based on vegetable oils). Instead of this you want to eat healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids contained in nuts and fish. You can also add molecularly distilled, high potency omega-3 fatty acids (purified fish oil) as a supplement to help restore the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 in the food you eat. Corn oil, safflower oil, grape seed oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil and peanut oil contain omega-6 fatty acids. These are the ones that cause inflammation and disease. You must avoid them!

Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

Compare the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids with that of omega-3 fatty acids.

The linoleic acid of omega-6 fatty acids metabolizes into arachidonic acid, which causes pro-inflammatory mediators, PGE2 and LTB4 as shown in the metabolism link. On the other hand with omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) metabolizes into EPA, DHA and the anti-inflammatory mediators PGE3 and LTB5.

It is easily understandable why a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids from processed foods will disbalance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. This ratio should be 1:1 to 3:1, but many Americans’ omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 6:1 to 18:1. Omega-6-fatty acids cause arthritis, heart disease and strokes. Be particularly careful avoiding soybean oil. It has become the most popular oil in the last few decades to foul up the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. We consume it through processed foods and cooking oils.

Omega-3 supplements

When it comes to balancing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, be aware that nutritional balancing can help you restore the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:1 to 3:1. An easy way is to cut out processed foods as much as possible. Supplement with molecularly distilled fish oil capsules to add more omega-3 fatty acids into your food intake. Here is an example of rheumatoid arthritis patients that received omega-3 supplements. After 24 weeks their joint swelling and tenderness decreased significantly.

Rebalancing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio was able to treat depression as this research showed. This makes you wonder how much depression may be caused by overconsumption of processed food.

Dr. Blatman suggested the following doses of omega-3 supplementation for various purposes:

  • 1 gram/day as supplementation for healthy adults with a good diet
  • 1-3 grams/day for people with cardiovascular disease
  • 5-10 grams/day for patients with an autoimmune disease, with chronic pain or with neuropsychiatric conditions

He mentioned that these doses are empirical, but in his experience this is what really works. Due to quality differences he suggested that you buy fish oil capsules in a health food store. Stay away from discount stores (the quality is the worst) and drug stores.

Other healthy oils are olive oil and coconut oil. They are also useful for cooking.

The bad about fish

1. Mercury and other pollutant

Pollution of the air, soil and rivers is causing accumulation of mercury and other heavy metals in ocean water.

This affects fish that live in the ocean. There is a pecking order of predators with the larger fish feeding on the smaller fish. The bigger the predator fish, the more mercury and other pollutants they accumulate. According to this link the safest seafood is wild salmon, pollock and oysters.

High mercury content of predator fish

Tuna is too high in mercury, so is swordfish, and shark is even worse. I only consume fish from freshwater lakes or rivers, as well as salmon, oysters and shrimp. This way I get the lowest exposure to mercury. Why is mercury bad for you? It is a neurotoxin. It can harm your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and the immune system. Specific symptoms can include loss of peripheral vision and lack of coordination with balancing problems. There may be impairment of speech and hearing. The key is to avoid mercury exposure.

2. Rancidity of fish oil

Rancid fish oil contains free radicals that attack the lining of the arteries. There would be no point in taking fish oil, if it is rancid and destroyed what you want to protect. When you store fish oil, it can interact with oxygen and form lipid peroxides, which are free radicals. The Council for Responsible Nutrition’s quality standards monitors rancidity in fish oil. Get fish oil that meets or exceeds the Council’s standards. If you refrigerate fish oil, it stays fresh longer.

Managing mercury pollution

Smaller fish low in mercury

The first line of defense is to stick to the smaller fish. They are they prey of the large predator fish. The following fish/mussels belong into the low mercury group (alphabetical order): anchovies, catfish, clam, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, herring, mackerel, mullet, oyster, perch, pollock, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sole, squid, trout and whitefish.

Molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acid supplements

You may want to supplement your omega-3 fatty acid intake by fish oil capsules. It is important that you choose the more expensive higher potency products. A molecular distillation process that removes mercury, PCB and other heavy metals creates these higher potency products. This way you only get the enriched omega-3 fatty acids in pure form. EPA and DHA in one capsule should be in the 900 mg to 1000 mg range, not less. I take 2 capsules twice per day as a daily supplement. This helps you as indicated above to balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which cuts down any inflammatory process in you.

More good news about omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have multiple anti-inflammatory effects. This helps for treating arthritis, osteoporosis, preventing heart attacks and brain shrinkage. Even depression can be influenced positively when krill oil and fish oil are both taken at the same time. It is best to think about krill oil and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as complementary marine oils having multiple beneficial effects on the body. Studies have shown that arthritis and osteoarthritis improve with krill oil, but also with fish oil. Similarly, heart attacks and strokes are prevented with both krill oil and omega-3 fatty acids. It appears that both oils reduce inflammation in the arteries that is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome in obese people. C-reactive protein measuring inflammation was reduced by krill oil up to 30% compared to placebo within 30 days. Patients with arthritis had 20% reduction in stiffness and pain.

More on krill oil

Krill oil is well absorbed into the brain and can prevent age-related brain shrinkage, preserve cognitive function and memory, prevent dementia and also possibly depression.

Other health conditions improve on both krill oil and omega-3 fatty acids like osteoporosis (in combination with vitamin K2, vitamin D3 and calcium), a weak immune system, diabetes, high triglyceride levels and cholesterol problems. Both marine oils prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, which helps to prevent atheroma formation and hardening of the arteries. This prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Fish, The Good And The Bad

Fish, The Good And The Bad

Conclusion

Children received cod liver oil in the past to prevent rickets. In the 1960’s Dale Alexander wrote a book called “Arthritis and Common Sense”. Since then medicine has been revolutionized in the late 1990’s by the idea that inflammation in the body is responsible for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, arthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is in this area that omega-3 fatty acids are an important supplement as fish oil capsules and krill oil capsules. These supplements can be bought molecularly distilled to be free of mercury and other pollutants.

Anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids

The anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids is a powerful preventative for all these diseases mentioned. It no longer is a question, whether these supplements work. It has become a fact backed up by large studies including mortality statistics. Even the FDA has included seafood into their food recommendations. The key is to rebalance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and incorporate marine oils in your diet. Your body will thank you for it with a longer, healthier life.

Aug
20
2016

New FDA Food Guidelines

A recent news release describes 2016 new FDA food guidelines. In it the FDA recommends to double the amount of seafood (fish and shellfish) as well as to cut down saturated fat and sugar. Coffee, which was labeled a culprit in the past is now recommended to a total of 400 mg of caffeine per day as it is heart protective. Cholesterol is no longer considered an enemy, but sugar, saturated fats and trans fats are.

Here is a breakdown of what each of these recommendations means.

New FDA food guidelines regarding increasing fish and shellfish

The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids have finally entered the recommended diet plan of the FDA. This reflects the nutritional research over the last few decades that noticed a longer life expectancy for people who eat more seafood and less red meat.

The only problem with seafood can be its mercury contamination. The higher predator fish are in the food chain, the more contaminated fish meat is. The FDA recommends to avoid tuna fish as a food source, as it is very high in mercury. An exception is canned tuna as it has been washed and some of the mercury got lost in the food processing. Wild salmon, sardines and oysters are low in mercury and good sources of omega-3 oils.

New FDA food guidelines regarding reduction of saturated fat

The FDA now recommend to reduce saturated fat to 10% of the total daily caloric intake. This is not undisputed as some studies show that saturated fat may not be involved in the production of hardening of the arteries. Other studies have shown that breast cancer is more common when more saturated fat is consumed.

When the news came out in the 1980’s that saturated fats would be bad for arteries, there was a switch to polyunsaturated acids: safflower oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil and soybean oil or grape-seed oil.

However, the irony is that these vegetable oils were highly unstable and led to oxidation causing heart disease and cancer.

In contrast olive oil is a much more stable oil. In the Mediterranean olive oil associates with longer lives.

New FDA food guidelines regarding protective effect of coffee

In the past few years many studies have shown the coffee consumption prolongs life. The FDA has now officially recognized these studies and recommends that consumption of up to 400 mg caffeine will help promote health. On the other hand the FDA also recommends that those who do not drink coffee, should not change their lifestyle just because of these recommendations.

New FDA food guidelines regarding sugar reduction

An entirely new recommendation of the FDA says to reduce sugar in anybody’s diet. The FDA explains that too many processed foods contain sugar. Food merchants  add sugar in drinks like coffee, fruit juices, food items like muffins and cakes.

In the past decades it has become clear that sugar much more so than fat is the culprit. It is sugar and starchy food that causes hardening of arteries. The liver metabolizes sugar into triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Elevated triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels lead to deposited into arteries and fatty tissue. In this context it makes sense that the FDA now recommends a reduction of sugar intake.

 New FDA food guidelines regarding cholesterol

In the past scientists thought that cholesterol in meat would be the cause of high cholesterol in the blood. This was an oversimplification. We now know that only a small portion of the blood cholesterol comes from food sources.  Cholesterol from food sources is no longer of importance with regard to risks for heart attacks and strokes. It is sugar and too many starchy foods (bread, pasta, pizza, muffins, cakes cookies) that the body digests into sugar. This accounts for high cholesterol, as the liver metabolizes sugar into LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

New FDA Food Guidelines

New FDA Food Guidelines

Conclusion

The new food guide by the FDA has fundamentally changed the previous recommendations based on newer nutritional studies. Now the FDA says to double fish and shellfish in comparison to previous recommendations. Coffee is no longer the enemy, but your friend. You need to avoid sugar and starch over consumption, as this can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Eat more vegetables and fruit. These recommendations closely resemble a Mediterranean diet, which several studies tell us prolong life. Abandon the American Standard diet with hamburgers, processed foods and sugary drinks. Pay attention to the FDA food recommendations!

Jan
25
2014

Live Your Best Life

While attending the 21st Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Aesthetic Medicine the audience was treated to a magnificent speech by the keynote speaker, who you all know from the TV show  “The Doctors”, namely the ER-doctor, Dr. Travis Stork.

He said that there are 4 main ingredients that are necessary to live the “best of your life”.

1. Healthy living starts in the kitchen

You want to make sure that you leave out unhealthy foods. This includes that you also need to cut out sugar. Be aware how important protein is, so you need protein with each meal. This includes legumes, fish, chicken, turkey meat and others. Saturated fat is essential, can improve your health and makes you feel full, but stay away from unhealthy, sugary snacks.

Snacks do not harm your health, but they must be healthy ones like nuts three times per day. To include nuts three times per day lowers your risk of dying by 39% and your rate of heart attacks by 52%.

In order to prove a point about cutting out junk foods, the TV producer convinced Dr. Stork to go on a junk food diet for 7 days to see what would happen. He gained 8 pounds after 6 days, his mood was getting subdued and he started to look forward to his next meal as if he was addicted to the junk foods. But suddenly he could not take it anymore and was concerned about getting sick from this experiment (rightfully so). He told his producer that he had to stop this experiment. He explained that most of his fat accumulation was happening in the abdominal area (visceral fat) and he showed a video that illustrated this further. He explained that the visceral fat is metabolically very active, produces inflammatory agents and causes changes in the heart vessels that eventually lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Live Your Best Life

Live Your Best Life

2. “I need you to start working out!”

We were designed to get moving. Our ancestors were gatherers and hunters, so they were constantly on the move. Our genetics have not changed, but our lifestyle habits are far removed: the sessile habits are not suiting us well healthwise. Translated into modern life this means: sit less; do gardening; use pacing as a technique to move when you are on the phone. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk (a minimum of 30 minutes three times per week). Personally, I like to add that our body never takes a holiday, so I think we should exercise 7 days per week.

3. Mind and body are connected

Stress can ruin your health. Happy people are 50% less likely to die prematurely. Laughter heals. A funny video was shared with the audience where a parent ripped a piece of paper into smaller and smaller pieces and the toddler watched with glee and laughed every time when the paper was ripped into two smaller parts. A service dog can be a great companion for disabled individuals, but pets have a positive impact on the health of any individual. They can be of help to reduce stress.

It is known that mind and body are connected. As a result, if your mind and body are balanced, your hormones get balanced and this helps to keep your metabolism in check. If your metabolism is balanced, you will avoid getting diseases like heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, and even cancer.

4. Make sure you get enough sleep

40% of people do not get enough sleep. You can change your sleep behavior. How do you do it?

a)    Have a consistent bedtime/waking time. Set your alarm clock to the same time every morning. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

b)    Avoid late night caffeine as it prevents a good night’s sleep.

c)    Get active throughout the day; this will prepare you to get tired in the evening.

d)    Towards the end of the day have a to-do-list ready for the next day. This prevents tossing and turning and thinking about what you want to do the following day. You know that it is all written down on the list, so you can relax and get to sleep.

e)    No bright lights in the bedroom, no bright alarm clocks, no control lights of electronic gadgets and have light-blocking window coverings in place. Do not have a TV in the bedroom, also no cell phone, and stay away from the computer for 1 hour before your bedtime.

After you re-programmed your body and mind to a regular sleep rhythm, you automatically get tired when you should and your hormones and body chemistry find a new balance, which contributes to good health.

Dr. Stork stated that we all need to prevent disease. We do this by making health our hobby. There is no need to be obsessed about it. “Just live your best life!”

Conclusion

I summarized Dr. Stork’s presentation from the anti-aging conference, as it struck me how simple it really is to live a healthier life. If we all follow these simple steps, we are a long way into anti-aging, because it gives us the footing we need to further refine it from there.

In many previous blogs I have mentioned these 4 factors that are needed to slow down aging. However, there are other factors that may be needed like bioidentical hormone replacement when there are hormone deficiencies; detoxification, if there is evidence of toxicity; and vitamins and other supplements. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant vitamins and supplements like CoQ10, vitamin D3 and omega3-fatty acid/DHA supplements are needed to keep LDL from getting oxidized as this is the reason why people die of heart attacks and strokes and get cancer.

I have recently written a book entitled “A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging” (being published at Amazon.com in March 2014), which explains the science behind why it is important to cut out sugar and starch. Sugar and starchy foods are the foods that oxidize LDL cholesterol, and ultimately it is the oxidized LDL cholesterol that causes deaths from heart attacks and strokes. In this text I have explained how proper nutrition, exercise, hormone rebalancing, supplements and lifestyle changes will allow you to prevent the major illnesses from setting in thus extending your life expectancy considerably. Included in the book is a chapter (written by my wife, Christina Schilling) that contains 7 days of recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts as well as snacks.

Last edited Oct. 25, 2014

Nov
30
2013

Statins Can Hurt The Consumer

Lovastatin (Mevacor, from Merck) was the first statin drug approved by the FDA in 1987 as a cholesterol-lowering drug in the US. It made history in helping high-risk heart attack patients reduce their cholesterol levels and has helped safe many lives. But with the detection around 2002 that heart disease is an inflammatory disease, and that measuring the C-reactive protein with a blood test was a better than measuring cholesterol levels in predicting who would be at risk for developing a heart attack, the landscape has changed. Lifestyle changes have also been shown to be very effective in reducing cholesterol, C-reactive protein and triglyceride levels. In fact, lifestyle changes will reduce the risk for heart attacks and strokes. The newest flurry of activity with calls for putting more people on statins makes me suspicious that there could be a misrepresentation of the facts.

In this blog I am analyzing the literature to get to the bottom of the facts on reducing risk for heart attacks and strokes. I also come to my own conclusion.

Facts about cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is part of the cell walls and plays a vital role in our metabolism. Liver cell membranes, for instance contain about 30% cholesterol. However, most of the cholesterol in our body comes from metabolism, 20 to 25% from the liver, the rest in the gut, adrenal glands and the reproductive organs, and also from the brain (the myelin sheaths contain a lot of cholesterol). 50% of the body’s cholesterol is recycled through bile salts and reabsorption of cholesterol in the gut (called the enterohepatic pathway).

Cholesterol is vital for cell function, for insulation of nerve fibers (myelin sheaths) and for synthesis of our steroid hormones (sex hormones and vitamin D3, which  is now considered to be a hormone). The medical establishment took most of the information regarding heart attack and stroke prevention from the ongoing Framingham study. This clearly pointed to the importance of lowering the LDL cholesterol fraction (the “bad” cholesterol) and maintaining or increasing the HDL fraction (the “good” cholesterol). When it was realized that concentrating only on lowering cholesterol missed 50% of all heart attacks that researchers refocused and found the missing link, namely inflammation. Inflammation is at the cause of heart attacks and strokes, high cholesterol and lipids were only secondary phenomena. Ref. 2 points out that a comprehensive approach to treating a patient with high cholesterol should involve a combination of treatments aimed at the underlying risk factors for heart disease or stroke in a particular patient. This involves sophisticated blood tests where a metabolic derangement can be pinpointed. It should include measuring cholesterol fractions, lipids, the C-reactive protein, hormone levels and more.

Statins Can Hurt The Consumer

Statins Can Hurt The Consumer

How the traditional thinking about cholesterol has changed

The Framingham study has provided the basis for the drug industry to produce statins until about 2002 when our thinking about cholesterol being the culprit for causing heart attacks has forever changed. Subsequently further research showed that other factors like inflammation of the blood vessels, the metabolic syndrome associated with obesity and lack of exercise were also to blame for causing heart attacks and strokes. Recently more details have come to light, which point to multiple causes like the consumption of too much sugar, too much trans fats, too much salt and eating too much over processed convenience food.  We end up gaining weight, develop the metabolic syndrome and inflammation of arteries (including the coronary arteries of the heart and the brain vessels). It is the lack of nitric oxide in the lining of the arteries, which combined with inflammatory substances from visceral fat are responsible for hardening of the arteries as the ultimate consequence of faulty nutrition and lack of exercise. We also know that oxidized LDL, particularly the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), will release free radicals and damage the arterial walls. CoQ-10 is a supplement, which is known to counteract this. One important test that had developed out of the Framingham study is the “ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol”, which is used by cardiologists to determine the risk of coronary artery disease. The average risk of this ratio for Americans is 5.0 for males and 4.4 for females. The ideal ratio to strive for is  the “1/2 average risk” ratio of 3.4 for males and 3.3 for women (Ref.2). A fit, slim person who eats a low carb, normal fat diet (modified Mediterranean diet) will often have a ratio of only 3.0, well below the 1/2 average risk. The moment you introduce grains in your diet (cereals, bread, pasta) your liver will convert carbs into LDL cholesterol, while HDL cholesterol will drop resulting in a high risk ratio of above 5.0 (often 7 or 8 or more). The LDL will get oxidized and is deposited into your arteries setting you up for coming down with a heart attack or stroke down the road.

How do statins work?

The statins are a group of drugs that inhibit an enzyme, called the hydroxymethylglutaryl–Coenzyme A (HMG-CoA), which leads to a lowering of cholesterol, specifically a fraction known as the LDL cholesterol. The success story of lovastatin (Mevacor) led to a flurry of new HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (cholesterol lowering drugs) such as fluvastatin (Lescol), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), and rosuvastatin (Crestor) in the late 1980’s and the 1990’s. Collectively it is now a 26 billion industry in annual sales.

Later investigations showed that there were other mechanisms by which statins helped, namely they were found to decrease the inflammatory reaction, which can be measured by lowering of the C-reactive protein. However, there are significant side effects in about 1 to 3% of people who take this medication, particularly an inflammation of liver cells (evident from elevation of liver enzymes) and a myopathy, which is a painful muscle condition (Ref. 1). This latter fact, which can occur in as many as 33% of the population at large (particularly the exercise minded) has limited the use of statins in competitive athletes where myopathies can occur in as many as 75% of athletes treated with statins (Ref.2). The reason for that is that the muscles of athletes cannot keep up with the demands put on them when they are kept in check by the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. On the other hand statins have prevented heart attacks and deaths from heart attacks and strokes in about 25% to 35% of patients treated with them as many clinical trials have shown (Ref.1), but simple supplements that have no side effects can do the same or do even better (see below).

The lack of cholesterol synthesis by the body’s cells when statins are given, leads to an expression of more LDL receptors on the cell surfaces. LDL binds to these receptors and enters the cells, which removes the circulating high risk LDL fraction of cholesterol from the blood thus causing a drop in LDL cholesterol. All of the side effects of statins (pull down to side effects in this link) can be explained as a result of the slow-down of organ functions (brain, muscles, gut, adrenal glands, etc.) as cholesterol synthesis is reduced.

New information from the Framingham Heart Study

So far everything I said made sense. But when I came across Ref. 4 I noticed that there was a bombshell of new information from another follow-up study of the Framingham Heart Study (Ref. 5) that did not fit in with the latest marketing drive of the statin manufacturers. In this study from 2005 Boston researchers had studied the outcomes of 789 men and 1105 women over a period of 16 to 18 years with respect to cognitive function. Participants were divided into total cholesterol groups that showed levels that were desirable (less than 200), borderline (200 to 239) or high (above 240). The astounding results were that higher cognitive functioning as documented in multiple cognitive tests in these three groups showed the best performance in the group with the highest cholesterol and the worst cognitive test outcomes in the lowest cholesterol group, quite opposite of what was expected.

Another important piece of research (April 2013) comes from Spain where doctors followed a group of 7447 patients with a high cardiovascular risk who were put on a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with nuts or a regular diet. The end point was death from heart attack or stroke. After 4.8 years the study had to be interrupted as the Mediterranean groups showed a significant survival advantage over the group on a regular diet.

Ref. 4 cited literature evidence that statins cause a 48% increased risk in postmenopausal women who take statins to develop diabetes. It also cites compelling evidence that diabetes patients are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease within 15 years and are 1.75 times more likely to develop any kind of dementia in the same time period.

Dr. Seneff from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT explains in great detail that statins effectively reduce cholesterol synthesis in the liver, which in turn starves the brain of one of its main nutrients explaining why patient develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as a result of statin treatment.

So, the lessons to be learnt from these clinical trials are that you want to offer your brain enough cholesterol and healthy fat to have a normal metabolism. Fortunately, what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. Conversely avoid statins, if you can and try alternatives first. Ref. 4 explains that for years the experts had the wrong theory that low fat/high carb was what would be good for your heart and brain, but the opposite is true: what is good for your heart and brain is a high healthy fats/low refined carb diet.

Make sure that with your blood tests that fasting insulin is low (no insulin resistance), that the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol is less than 3.4 (low risk for heart attacks or strokes) and that the hemoglobin A1C level is low (4.8 to 5.6%, ideally less than 4.5%), which means you are not diabetic.

How alternative treatment can save you from heart attacks

Lifestyle treatment through dietary intervention, moderate exercise, and weight loss has been somewhat neglected by mainstream medicine, but is now recognized in regular textbooks of medicine as first-line treatment (Ref. 3). Most patients can lower LDL cholesterol by 10 to 15% through a change in diet. High-risk patients with established heart disease (narrowing of coronary arteries) require a drop of 30 to 60% of LDL cholesterol; this high-risk patient group may need an addition of a statin. In patients with metabolic syndrome or diabetes high triglycerides are often present and will respond to decreased intake of simple sugars, alcohol, and calories (Ref.3). Total calorie intake should be adjusted according to what the weight is when weighed every day with the goal of reducing the weight when overweight or obese, but maintaining the weight when it is in the normal body mass index range (BMI of 20 to 25). The total fat intake should be around 25%-35% of the total calorie intake. Specifically, saturated fat needs to be less than 7% of total calories, polyunsaturated fat up to 10% of total calories and monounsaturated fat up to 20% of total calories. Healthy fats according to Ref. 4 are extra-virgin olive oil, organic butter, almond milk, avocados, olives, nuts, nut butters and cheese ( except for blue cheeses). Other healthy fats are sesame oil, coconut oil, and the oils found in seeds like flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. Note that trans-fats (such as in margarine and baked goods) are a “no-no” as it causes free radicals in your body, which would accelerate the hardening of your arteries. Complex carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit are the main source of total calories providing 50%-60% of the total calories. Fiber intake needs to be 20-30 grams per day. Protein intake should be about 15% of total calories. Fat should provide 25% to 35% of the total calories per day. Cholesterol intake should be less than 200 mg per day. You may want to consider the use of plant sterols (2 grams per day) to enhance LDL cholesterol lowering. Physical activity from moderate exercise should expend at least 200 kcal per day (better 300 kcal).

Which supplements prevent heart attacks and strokes?

There are several nutrients that have been shown to be powerful preventers of heart attacks and strokes. I will review them briefly here (based on Ref. 2):

1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): The cells lining the arteries are only working well when their mitochondria are working properly producing chemical energy in form of ATP. CoQ10 is an important component of the mitochondrial metabolism; it is also the only fat soluble antioxidant that gets absorbed into the LDL particles where it protects these from oxidation. Statins suppress CoQ10 synthesis, so patients on statins need to take CoQ10 supplements daily to counteract this. However, anybody who is healthy now should take CoQ10 as a daily supplement for prevention. I take 400 mg per day.

2. Vitamin E (tocopherols): this fat soluble vitamin is an antioxidant and has been praised in the past as being heart supportive, was subsequently bad-mouthed by some conservative physicians, but lately has been resurrected. It turns out that there are 8 different types of tocopherols, with the alpha tocopherol being the most known, but gamma tocopherol is the one you want to make sure you are also getting with your balanced vitamin E supplement every day as this is the one that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Simply ask staff at your health food store for a vitamin E supplement with gamma tocopherol in it. Take 400 IU per day (of the mix).

3. Curcumin: This is a powerful heart and brain protector combining three different mechanisms in one; it is reducing oxidative stress, is an anti-inflammatory and counters the process that threatens to destroy the lining of the arteries. One study on healthy volunteers showed a reduction of 33% in lipid oxidation, a 12% reduction of total cholesterol and an increase of 29% of the protective HDL cholesterol when 500 mg of curcumin was taken only for 7 days (Ref.2). This is the daily dose I would recommend for prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

4. Polyphenols: Flavonoids are the largest group among the polyphenols contained in such common foods as vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee, chocolate and wine.  Over 130 studies have been done on humans showing improvement of the lining of the arteries (endothelial functioning) and lowering of blood pressure. Polyphenol consumption has been associated with a lower risk of mortality from heart attacks. Eat a Mediterranean type diet or a DASH diet and you will automatically get enough polyphenols with your food. However, resveratrol, the powerful red wine polyphenol warrants a separate daily supplementation as it prevents LDL oxidation in humans (Ref.2). Take about 250 mg of it daily.

5. Niacin/nicotinic acid: This supplement comes as “flush-free niacin” and also as extended release niacin; it can raise the beneficial HDL cholesterol by 30 to 35% when higher doses of 2.25 grams per day are used. In a metaanalysis of 7 studies it has been shown to significantly reduce heart attacks and transient ischemic attacks (precursor syndrome before developing a stroke). Niacin can change the small particle LDL into a large particle size LDL, which is less dangerous. Niacin has also been shown to reduce oxidation of LDL, which stops the atherosclerotic process. For a healthy person 500 mg per day of flush-free niacin is adequate.

6. Fish oil (omega-3-fatty acids): Because heart attacks are due to an inflammatory process and high LDL cholesterol is thought to be only a secondary phenomenon, it is very important to have this additional tool of an important anti-inflammatory supplement. In the past it was still safe to eat fish fairly frequently per week. But with mercury, radioactive iodine from Japan’s leaking reactor and carcinogenic PBC’s all congregating in the ocean waters, it is no longer safe to consume fish in large quantities. The remedy to this situation is molecularly distilled (or pharmaceutically pure) EPA/DHA supplements. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is the acronym for docosahexaenoic acid. Fish oil supplements at a dosage of 3.35 grams per day of EPA plus DHA were shown to reduce triglycerides by up to 40%, equally to Lipitor or even more effective, but without the statin side effects. The amount of the dangerous small dense LDL is also being reduced with fish oil. Fish oil supplements have reduced the mortality from heart attacks and strokes and led to a higher survival from non-fatal heart attacks. At the same time these preventative fish oil doses will also treat and prevent arthritis.

7. Other useful supplements: Soluble fiber from psyllium, pectin, beta-glucans and others have been shown in clinical trials to reduce LDL cholesterol by binding bile salts in the gut (interrupting the enterohepatic pathway). Plant sterols (usually sold as sterol esters) are recognized by the FDA as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, if taken in high enough amounts (2.4 grams of sterol esters per day). There are other useful supplements like artichoke extract, pomegranate, soy protein, Indian gooseberry (amla), garlic and pantethine (vitamin B5) that have been proven to be of benefit in terms of prevention of heart attacks and strokes. It would be too lengthy to get into more details here.

Conclusion

Recently there was a review in a medical journal that demonstrated that clinical guidelines (in this case for clinical guidelines for lowering cholesterol) erred 40% of the times when measured against scientific tests as this link explains. When it comes to saving lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes, what is needed is a multifactorial approach that treats the multifactorial causes of cardiovascular disease. Just pushing for treating more people with statins as Big Pharma is attempting to do is not addressing the fact that cholesterol is needed for our metabolism and the synthesis of our hormones. It is much superior to use a combination of different approaches that overlap and thus potentiate each other in their effects excluding statins first. Exercise creates more nitric oxide production by the lining of the arteries, which opens up arteries and prevents spasms. A proper diet with as many of the proven vitamins and other support factors will control inflammation and oxidation of LDL cholesterol particles as explained. This will prevent heart attacks and strokes as has been shown in many clinical trials. Only patients who come from families with genetically high cholesterol or high triglycerides and those patients who had heart attacks and strokes should be exposed to statins as they are at a higher risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. They need all of the help they can get in addition to the lifestyle factors mentioned. Most other patients and the public at large will do quite well without statins (no side effects of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and muscle pains). And, yes, a diet high in healthy fats, but low in refined carbs is what your brain and heart need (the opposite of what you have thought, see Ref. 4).

More information about side-effects of statins (acute pancreatitis): https://www.askdrray.com/pancreatitis-can-occur-with-statin-use/

Lower cholesterol with Mediterranean diet: http://nethealthbook.com/news/mediterranean-diet-benefits-us-workers/

 

References

1. Bonow: Braunwald’s Heart Disease – A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed. © 2011 Saunders.

2. Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

3. Melmed: Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 12th ed. © 2011 Saunders.

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

5. http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/67/1/24.full.pdf

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

Sep
07
2013

Preserve Your Muscles And Joints

Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, constantly on the go. They did not have to think too much about their muscle and joint health, they simply moved them. In our society this has changed a lot. At work we spend hours sitting at a desk, and then we use computers and watch television at home. Instead of walking to the neighborhood store, we use our car.

Here I will review what we can do to keep our joints and muscles in top shape until a ripe old age.

Brief intro regarding the anatomy of joints and muscles

Our joints are designed to give us full mobility. But the joints cannot do it alone. The muscles are designed to allow the joints to move in a full range. Without exercise the muscles will shrivel up (medical term “atrophy”) within only 2 to 3 weeks. So without regular exercise your joints won’t do you any good. Besides the joint capsules need regular stretching in full range exercises to produce the lubricating fluid (synovial fluid) that nourishes the joint surfaces and the menisci of the knees. Think of muscles and joints as being a functional unit designed to move you about.

Our joints have aerodynamic designs to do the most optimal job for our body. For instance the knees have more of a hinge design that includes menisci for shock absorption while the shoulders and hips have more of a ball and socket type construction.

Wear and tear with aging

It is usually thought that injuries and aging wear down the joints. But there are other factors such as the wide spread use of statins that can contribute to muscles weakness. Ironically statins are taken to protect the heart, but side effects can interfere with the ability to exercise your heart because of aching muscles and joints.

With optimal nutrition and avoidance of wheat and wheat products to prevent autoimmune arthritis (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis) your joints can stay young for much longer (explained further below). But your joints and muscles need to move through a full range of motion regularly to keep the blood circulation and nutrition of their tissues in top shape.

What causes joint deterioration?

Aging, weight gain, diabetes, smoking and lack of exercise all are known to cause a worsening of arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, but also rheumatoid arthritis. The wrong diet with lots of sugar and starch and trans fats (hamburgers, pasta, sugar soda drinks) causes hyperinsulinemia (insulin overproduction, like in type 2 diabetes) and is almost guaranteed to make you sick with arthritis, obesity and diabetes.

There is also evidence that wheat causes inflammation and arthritis by stimulating your pancreas to produce too much insulin. This has been proven for dogs and for humans. A good diet book to follow is Dr. William Davis “Wheat Belly Cookbook” (Ref. 1) with 150 recipes. If you are overweight, these recipes will also help you to lose some weight effortlessly.

A caution to marathon runners: the constant pounding of prolonged jogging can cause osteoarthritis of hips and knees decades down the road. You may want to switch to different exercises before this happens.

Preserve Your Muscles And Joints

Preserve Your Muscles And Joints

What helps joints?

Molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acid helps to prevent inflammation of your joints. Vitamin D3 will help your bones to be strong to support the tendons and ligaments. Chicken cartilage can build up joint cartilage within a few weeks! So, if you feel pain in your joints use 3 capsules of omega-3 (the strong, molecularly distilled ones) twice per day. This will help your joint inflammation within 3 to 4 weeks. If this alone is not enough add chicken cartilage from the health food store, which will help to build up the hyaline cartilage within your joints. For those who are questioning the effect of chicken cartilage, here is a 1993 chicken cartilage Harvard study proving it.

Below are more general steps that will help your joints, ligaments and muscles.

Maintaining health of joints and muscles

a)    It starts with good nutrition.

Hamburgers and deep fried French fries will not do the trick. Muscles require protein from meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. If you are a vegetarian you need to become knowledgeable on what essential amino acids are and what combination of vegetables will give you the amino acid composition to build up a full protein.

Joints need ingredients from cartilage, which you find in chicken cartilage (available in health food stores as fikzol (type II cartilage). I you prefer, chicken soup would also give you the ingredients to build up cartilage, but it would require a lot of regular chicken soup consumption to achieve this.

Sugar and starchy foods, which are broken down within half an hour after a meal into sugar in your blood, cause an insulin response from your pancreas. This in turn can cause inflammation in your joints and tendons. It is interesting to note that type 2 diabetes and arthritis are associated. A ketogenic, low sugar/starch diet will prevent arthritis and diabetes as it reduces the insulin level in the blood, which in turn turns off inflammation in the joints.

b)   Supplements:

Omega-3 fatty acids will help control any inflammation including the inflammation from arthritis (you need 3 capsules of the concentrated, molecularly distilled fish oil twice per day to achieve this).  DMSO gel, available in health food stores in the US, can also be used to rub onto inflamed joints. It will penetrate tissues rapidly, is nontoxic and helps control inflammation along with the omega-3 fatty acids. Regular anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) are harsh on your kidneys and can irritate the gastric lining causing bleeding gastric erosions, so definitely not recommendable.

Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, or a combination of both is available in the health food store and has been shown to help with osteoarthritis. I contributes to building up hyaline cartilage.

c)   Watch your weight:

It has been shown that the rate of degenerative arthritis (=osteoarthritis) in obese people is much higher when compared to slim people.

d)   Exercise:

You need to move your joints, ligaments and muscles every day to maintain their strength and range of motion. A daily workout at home or in a gym is best. I recommend 30 minutes of a treadmill or equivalent (jogging, Stairmaster etc.) as aerobic exercises. Then you need 30 minutes of isometric exercises like a circuit on exercise machines in the gym or dumbbells and expanders (resistance bands) at home. I consider this as the basic fitness routine every day.

Ballroom dancing and Latin dancing or Zumba is also a good combination exercise, which I would recommend on top of the basic exercise. Dancing helps to maintain your balance as well, which is something the older population tends to lose. In addition dancing stimulates your brain cells and makes you less vulnerable to develop dementia in old age.

Other aerobic exercises that can be recommended are walking (brisk walk) and/or intermittent jogging. Swimming has the advantage particularly for arthritis sufferers that you are floating. It allows you to exercise your leg and arm muscles, even if you have some arthritis pains.

e)  Pain relief: What could you do for pain relief? I do not like NSAIDs as this will damage your kidneys on the long-term and cause gastric erosions that can bleed massively. Electro acupuncture is very useful for muscle and joint pains and has no side effects. Physiotherapy treatments are useful to recondition your muscles and build up the range of motion of your joints. Chiropractic treatments for back and neck pain will also help. Instead of narcotics, why not try low dose Naltrexone (LDN). It has been shown to help with the pain of fibromyalgia.

Conclusion

In this brief review I have attempted to show you that your body is not on a one-way street in the direction of disability and death. There is a lot we can actively do to prevent this from happening prematurely. Just eat right, supplement (if you have symptoms), exercise and be active. Soon you will no longer be aware of your previously achy joints or muscles, as the pain tends to melt away when you are reconditioned.

More information on fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

References:

1. William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

Aug
24
2013

Pimples And Acne Can Be Caused By Food

For a long time nobody knew why teenagers get acne. But many assumed that it would come from hormonal changes as teenagers grow up. But why then are there some ethnic regions in the world where teenagers do not get acne? In this blog I will present the background that shows that wheat, sugar and dairy products are the culprits. They are not eaten in those regions of our planet where acne does not exist.

Regions where acne does not exist

1. The Kitivan Islanders of Papua New Guinea have no cases of acne in teenagers. They adhere to the old hunter/gatherer diet of no sugar, no alcohol, no wheat and no grains. Instead they eat root vegetables such as sweet potato, yam, taro, tapioca; fruit like papaya, pineapple, banana, mango, watermelon, guava and pumpkin; and also vegetables, coconuts and fish.

2. African Bantus and Zulus: These original African warriors eat a low glycemic diet with no wheat, no milk and no refined sugar or starches. Their teenagers and young adult do not have acne, if they stick to the original tribal diet.

3. Aché hunter/gatherers of Paraguay: a study by researchers from the Colorado State University in 2002 showed that sugar, wheat and other high-glycemic foods were missing in the diet of these native tribes. As a result they have no acne when they consume this type of diet, which is very similar to the Kitivan Islanders of Papua New Guinea.

4. Japan’s Okinawans when sticking to their original diet before 1970 had clear complexion and no pimples (acne). But as this link shows the McDonald’s and other fast foods with too much salt, too much sugar, wheat, deep fried and convenience foods entered the scene after 1970 and the acne rate went up to the American level.

5. The natives of the Purus Valley in Brazil: A dermatological examination of 9955 school children age 6 to 16 showed an acne incidence of only 2.7%. In contrast in Westernized countries the rate of acne is 60 to 80%. The diet in this region is again similar to the other groups already mentioned above.

6. Canadian Inuit before 1950 did not consume dairy products and were acne free. Since then there has been a steady increase of dairy products, soda, beef, and processed foods.

How acne develops

The medical term for pimples or acne is “acne vulgaris”. For years it has been postulated that hormones and medication can cause acne. According to Ref.1 there are several steps that work together in causing acne. The hair follicle and sebaceous gland work as one unit. Male hormones, called androgens play an important role in the development of acne, both in males and females. Testosterone in males is not only produced in testicles, but also in the skin itself. It gets converted by an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, into the much more active metabolite dihydrotestosterone. In individuals with hypersensitive receptors in the sebaceous gland this will cause blockage in the sebaceous gland duct and at the same time stimulate the sebaceous gland oil production leading to the formation of a keratotic plug. White heads and black heads are formed this way. Contributing factors are inflammatory substances that are caused by insulin release stimulated by sugar, wheat and starch intake. This stimulates IGF-1 receptors in the skin, which causes growth of the subcutaneous skin layers, which is pushing up from the layer below the skin, kinking the sebaceous gland duct and causing acne pustules (pimples) to form. A skin bacterium, called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), is getting trapped in the pimple causing a local skin infection, which in turn can cause acne cysts and furuncles, particularly in males where there is a family history of acne. High cortisol levels from stress can also be a contributing factor in causing acne. Today’s teenagers are exposed to a lot of stresses from exams, competitive sports and peer pressures.

Females with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) have higher androgen production from ovarian cysts, which results in acne as well.

Both male and female teenagers experience an androgen surge when puberty sets in. If the teenager avoids the additional insulin response, which comes from eating sugar, starch, grain and particularly from consuming wheat and wheat products, the plugging up of skin pores will not occur, meaning these teenagers will be acne free. Some teenagers are also sensitive to milk protein from milk and milk products. In sensitive people whey protein allergy causes the same insulin/skin IGF-1 response described above, which leads to blocking of skin pores. If there is no blockage in the hair follicle, the P. acnes bacteria will stay on the surface of the skin (these bacteria are part of the normal skin flora) and the sebaceous gland secretions flow unimpededly to the surface of the skin keeping  it naturally lubricated. These observations are further confirmed by a study from Malaysia in 2012 showing that a high glycemic load diet with milk and ice cream caused worsening of acne in teenagers of both sexes.

Pimples And Acne Can Be Caused By Food

Pimples And Acne Can Be Caused By Food

Treating acne correctly

A)   Conventional acne treatment

This is a thorny issue, because Big Pharma has a firm hand in the treatment of acne and they are supporting symptomatic treatment of acne rather than treating the cause. There are surface treatment modalities that are supposed to open the skin pores: peeling agents such as benzoyl peroxide. General practitioners often treat the infection with antibiotic pills (tetracycline or erythromycin), but this is not treating the cause, only the super infection that comes from the plugged up skin pores (stasis of sebaceous gland secretions). Another approach is topical application of antibiotic and peeling agent in combination (1% clindamycin and 5% benzoyl peroxide gel), which is applied twice daily (Ref.2). Resistant cases, usually the ones who have a family history of severe acne, have been treated by a skin specialist who has a special license to treat with isotretinoin (Accutane), a vitamin A derivative, which works in many cases, but which can have serious side effects. These include skin dryness, eye dryness, muscle and bone pains, headaches, liver enzyme abnormalities, and instability of mood including depression and causing birth defects in the fetus of a pregnant woman (Ref. 3). In 2009 the manufacturer stopped distributing the drug in the US, because of too many lawsuits regarding damages from the drug.

I am not saying you should ever take this toxic medication. What I am saying is that treating symptoms, but not the cause has led to peculiar drug manufacturing. This drug is now used to treat brain cancer and pancreatic cancer.

B)   Dietary approach to treat acne

There has been a renewed interest in the last 40 years to sort out the connection between dietary factors and acne.

The most straightforward treatment in my opinion is to modify what you eat.

A clinical trial from the University of Melbourne in 2007 showed that a low-glycemic diet reduced the acne lesions by 22% compared to a control group.

Two factors are clear: a low-glycemic diet produces fewer pimples, the stricter the low-glycemic diet is applied, the more effective the treatment will be. Up to 50% reduction in acne lesions were observed among patients with acne who adhered to a strict low-glycemic index diet in just 12 weeks. There is also evidence that milk and other dairy products can contribute to acne, which works through the same mechanism of IGF-1 stimulation mentioned above.

A US study from Boston showed a 22% increase in acne lesions with total milk consumption and increase of 44% after skim milk consumption.

Omega-3-fatty acid supplementation is useful for inflammatory acne in about 2/3 of the cases as this study showed. Here is a patient from this study who benefitted from omega-3 supplementation. The baseline image is seen with inflammatory acne lesions on his cheek. Only 12 weeks after taking 3 Grams of omega-3 supplementation daily his face looked much improved.

Conclusion

There is a lesson to be learnt from the analysis of the regions in the world where acne does not exist and from all these observational studies mentioned. Cutting out wheat, wheat products, grains, sugar, milk and milk products will lead to amazing results regarding acne prevention and improvement of patients who suffer from acne. We have been lulled into believing that medical science will give us a magic pill or magic potion that would solve our complexion problems. As mentioned above one of the “magic pills” (isotretinoin) is so toxic that it is now used for cancer treatments. All along we allowed the food industry to destroy our complexion by inducing an insulin and IGF-1 response that plugged up our skin pores. We can open them up by eliminating wheat and wheat products, sugar, high-glycemic foods as well as dairy products.

More information on acne: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/acne-vulgaris/

References

  1. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed., Saunders 2012. Chapter 73 : Acne Vulgaris and Acne Rosacea, by Sean H. Zager, MD
  2. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., © 2009 Churchill Livingstone.
  3. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine, 2nd ed., © 2010 Saunders.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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