If You Can Do Just One of These - You Will Live Much Longer
Everyone knows that being physically fit is good for you. But just what does physically fit mean? Do you have to get a personal trainer and go to a gym four times a week? For decades we've thought that you can test your future "risk" of death by getting on a treadmill test with a heart monitor and seeing how long you can last as the treadmill gets faster and faster. Want a more accurate tool? Cheaper too?
Get down on the floor and see how many pushups you can do! That's what they did at Harvard. The study, published in JAMA Open Networks was the most read study in medicine in 2019. Middle-aged firefighters (1,104 of them) had treadmill tests and did pushups and were then followed for 10 years. Turns out doing 40 pushups for middle-aged men predicted a 96% lower risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who could only do 10 or less. Any women? Nope. Women have lower upper body strength so the data doesn't work on women at the 40 number, but the principle remains.
Do we have other data that reflects longevity risk? Yup. Walking. The University of Sydney shows that walking at a faster pace (>3 mph) is extra good for you over just a mosey. For those over 60, being able to walk one mile at over 3 mph had a 53% reduction in cardiovascular risk. Just walking a mile regularly provided a 21% risk reduction. They studied some 50,225 walkers to get this data. The same findings come from the Honolulu Retired Men's Study that showed walking 2 miles a day reduced cardiovascular mortality some 50% (27 down to 12 deaths per 1,000 years). We can all walk, and faster is better.
More ideas? Yes! Can you get up from the floor? Cross your legs and sit down on the floor. Then get back up from that cross-legged position. Here is the video. Score yourself by taking off 0.5 points for each time you need to use your forearm, knee, or hand, or need to shift onto the side of one leg before getting all the way up. Also, off 0.5 points if you lose balance. If you score under 8 after starting at 10, you are two times more likely to die in the next 6 years. If you score 3 or less points, you are 5 times as likely to die. Wow! Getting yourself limber and fit enough to get up from the floor matters! In fact, scoring a 6 is lousy, but raising it to a 7 gives you a 21% reduction in mortality. You can work on that. That yoga class sounds all the more attractive. You can practice, practice, practice in the privacy of your own home and get better and stronger at it.
Final study. Grip strength. Handshake strength. In a landmark study from England published in the BMJ, handgrip strength was strongly, inversely correlated with all-cause mortality. You can test it with a dynamometer. Levels of < 57 lbs in men and 35 in women correlate with trouble. You can fix that too. Start by finding a bar you can hang from and just let yourself "hang out". Can you hang 60 seconds (men) or 30 seconds (women)? That's good. If not, practice it. It will build up your strength. Then, can you do one chin-up? Two? Ten?
We didn't cover peak flow, oxygen consumption, and many others but this is a start. Getting fit matters, and we can measure it in a variety of ways.
www.What will Work for me? Whew, I measured my pushups some 5 years ago and go all the way to 12. I have been at it for 5 years now and I can hit 40 if I give it a go. But one chin up? Getting off the floor? Oh, dear. This falling apart with aging is a drag and keeping ahead of it takes work. Just plain does. I'll encourage you if you encourage me.
1. You live longer when you are .............? Answer: Physically fit
2. You will be 96% less likely to have a heart attack if you can demonstrate your fitness by doing what? Answer: 40 pushups
3. Easier to accomplish, is walking. What is the best method of walking? Answer: Faster. 20 minutes for one mile predicts at least 50% lower risk of heart disease.
4. Can you name two other methods of assessment? Answer: Hand grip, getting off the floor without assistance, peak flow on forced breathing....
5. Can you name the simplest goal with hand grip? Answer: Hanging from a bar for 60 sec (men), 30 sec (women). No..not that kind of bar.
Sugar Disrupts Your Colonic Biome and Leads to Diabetes
Human biology is pretty complex with multiply interacting components. To make it a bit harder, we don't allow researchers to sacrifice their human subjects to be certain of their results. So, we do research in mice, that may not be exactly the same, but frequently are pretty close. That's what this study showed. The nuance and results fit neatly into other research, so ring true. It's worth trying to understand.
Some 70% of the human immune system is around the gut. The lining of our intestines is just one cell layer thick, so it takes that army of watchful immune cells to make sure bad actors don't get in. And in turn, the host of bacteria living in our gut has a constant conversation with our immune cells surrounding the gut. That's what this landmark study, published in Cell this week, is about. Your gut works best when it has lots of "segmented filamentous bacteria" (SFB) all along its lining. Those bacteria facilitate your having more T-helper cells called TH-17 cells. TH-17 cells reduce your absorption of fat.
When you eat a lot of sugar you induce damage to the gut lining. That sets off inflammation which in turn inhibits the growth of those helpful filamentous bacteria. Like dominoes, when you have fewer FSBs, you get an unhelpful overgrowth of different bacteria, Faecalibaculum rodentium, that appear to be unaffected by the sugar and blossom in the absence of the FSBs.
In this study in Cell, they colonized the mice with FSB bacteria and then fed them a high sugar, high fat diet. The high sugar depleted their FSB bacteria. Their TH17 cells dropped. They gained weight. Without the sugar, they kept their FSB bacteria and TH17 cells and didn't gain weight.
This study was done in mice, so it may not be applicable to humans. However, there is abundant human evidence about TH17 populations in the gut being depleted by sugar. The overgrowth of FSBs is a new finding, however.
The real problem is that we humans in America are eating 310 calories of sugar a day. That is 15% of our daily calories. Table sugar is a combination of fructose and glucose. Most of that is hidden in foods like peanut butter, ketchup, sports drinks all of which contain sugars to trick you into eating more.
And we don't feed our biome in our colon. Fiber is the foundation of biome nutrition. Some amino acids like glutamine are also helpful. But mostly fiber. Americans average about 10-14 grams of fiber a day. We have many bowel diseases like diverticulitis, appendicitis, gallbladder disease that are all made worse by low fiber diets. Parts of the world where fiber consumption averages 30-40 grams of fiber a day don't have those diseases at all.
To top our health dilemmas off, we take antibiotics way too frequently, damage our colonic biome and lose wide swaths of good bacteria that take months and months to repair.
www.What will Work for me. This study adds to our understanding of the complexity of our interaction between the precious biome in our gut, that acts much like an independent organ, and our immune system. We are all sugar addicts and very vulnerable to the seduction of sweet flavors. I know I am. If I start on sweet, the rest of the day results in eating more food of all kinds. You can observe that in yourself too. See if you can go for a year without any antibiotics, lots of fiber, and less than 1 oz of sugar a day. Just try.
1. What happens in our gut when we eat sugar? Answer: We get a decrease in filamentous bacteria that typically lie adjacent to our gut lining. (If you are a mouse.)
2. With fewer filamentous bacteria, what happens to our immune system? Answer: We have a reduction in TH17 cells. (If you are a mouse.)
3. With fewer TH17 cells, what happens to our weight when we eat an all-American high fat, low fiber, high sugar diet. Answer: Our weight shoots up.
4. Americans eat how much sugar a day? Answer: About 310 calories. That is between 10-15% of our calories.
5. Bottom line.....if you want to lose weight...do what? Answer: Don't eat any sugar. Read the ingredients of everything you eat...and don't eat sugar.
Uncoupling Protein Keeps Your Warm
Did you know that we start life as babies with a lot of brown fat? About 5% of newborns' weight is brown fat, mostly around their shoulder blades and upper back. Newborns can't shiver and they have a lot of surface area relative to volume, so they have a very high need to generate heat. That's what brown fat does. It is brown because the fat cells are chock full of mitochondria, generating lots of heat. That's what uncoupling protein does: turns on heat production in mitochondria. The fat cells becomes brown because of all the mitochondria in it, busily making heat instead of ATP. Guess what hibernating animals have? Lots of brown fat! Same metabolic need: heat.
The finding of brown fat in hibernating animals and infants led scientists to explore whether human adults have it too. They do! It was found, somewhat by serendipity, on doing PET scans for cancer metastases. Adults have it around their clavicles, and like infants, in back between their shoulder blades, in the center of the chest cavity, and along the spine. These are all ideal places to generate core heat.
Hmmm. Think for a couple of seconds. Do you want more brown fat? The answer is the same as to the question, "Do you want to lose some weight?". Of course you do. You want to burn off those calories as heat instead of being stored as fat. Brown fat is full of mitochondria, and they have uncoupling protein going full blast.
How can you turn on the production of brown fat. The concept is easy. White fat (very few mitochondria) can be turned into "tan fat", (a few mitochondria), can be turned into "brown fat", lots of mitochondria. Cold exposure, for one. If you haven't heard of Wim Hof, you need to bone up a little and learn about his ability to swim in ice water and not get cold. He has broken many records for cold exposure and now teaches others how to do it. If he had his fat tissue biopsied, it would be dark brown, because he exposes himself to cold water with incredible diligence.
You can do that too! NIH Research shows that if you expose young men to 66 degrees for one month for 10 hours a night, with just a bed sheet and standard hospital pajamas to sleep, after one month of 75 degrees (that's right, just a 9 degree drop in night temperature), you will turn on brown fat and have a 42% increase in brown fat in just one month. That's cool! (So to speak). Modest cold exposure will do it. Cold bathing will do it. Probably any regular cold exposure will do it. The more you do it, the browner the fat - the more mitochondria in the fat with uncoupling protein activated. That explains why the indigenous peoples of Tierra del Fuego could live in a cold environment with no clothes!
What else will turn on uncoupling protein, hence brown fat? First on the list in the Frontiers article is capsaicin, chilis! Resveretrol, curcumin, omega-3 oils, menthol all activate UCP too.
Ketones! This makes sense. A hunter-gatherer, gets to October and its cold, and carbs are now frozen off, needs to generate heat to survive. Living without carbs means transitioning to burning fat for calories, and that makes ketones. Some of the energy gets diverted into heat! Foods that naturally give you ketones include MCT oil, coconut oil, fiber (that gets fermented in your gut to ketones), goat cheese (has much higher ketone content than cow cheese, vinegar and all fermented foods.
www.What will Work for me. There you have it. Spooky synergy in biochemical processes. Uncoupling protein is good for you in that it protects the mitochondria from too much energy production by letting off the extra energy as heat. That I experience every Thanksgiving night after consuming half a turkey. I'm hot and can't sleep at 2 am. My mitochondria are uncoupled, just to protect me from the calorie excess. But now I get this new idea. I can turn on uncoupling protein, generate a little extra heat on the side by just adding some ketones to my coffee. One T of coconut oil in my morning coffee will do it. And make sure I keep getting fiber in my diet. Goat cheese? Now, that's unique. I like goat cheese.
1. What does uncoupling protein (UCP) do? Answer: Like an old fashioned steam engine, it lets off excess energy as heat instead of forcing it into the ATP production line.
2. When do I experience that excess heat capacity? Answer: When you eat too much, like a big holiday dinner. Or any night you have a snack before bed and then wake up at 2 am feeling too hot.
3. What's the upside of UCP? Answer: It generates heat to protect you and keep you warm.
4. Where do we see that in nature? Answer: Right before our eyes. Newborns, incredibly vulnerable to heat loss, have loads of brown fat. And in anyone who is regularly exposed to cool temperatures. You can do it for yourself by turning the shower to cool / cold for the last 30 seconds.
5. What makes brown fat brown? Answer: Loads of mitochondria that have activated UCP, all generating heat instead of making ATP fuel.
Physical Inactivity Makes for High Risk of COVID
We all know the CDC research-based risks for severe Covid: advanced age, male gender, and the presence of underlying comorbidities, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Now,inactivity is known to be a risk factor for all the COVID risk factors. Being a couch potato helps you gain weight, develop diabetes and earn your heart attack. What no one has ever studied is the effect of activity itself on COVID risk. The COVID pandemic has locked everyone down at home, inactive, watching TV, and gaining weight. Does that make the whole situation worse? Does inactivity make for worse COVID? That's an interesting question.
Physical activity guidelines for Americans have been published in JAMA and call for 150 minutes a week of activity. That is easily achievable for most folks as it only asks for 20 minutes a day. The dilemma is that 20 minutes a day is a bit of a trick if your front door is closed by pandemic strictures. What are the risks?
The authors of this week's paper from the Kaiser Permanente Health System in Southern California (KPSC) looked at just that. KPSC has an electronic medical record that documents activity levels (as self-reported) and covers 4.7 million people. The inclusion criteria for the study was everyone over age 18 who got COVID in the 10-month interval from January to October of 2020. They required all participants to have 3 "exercise vital signs" in the prior three years to ensure their measure of exercise was accurate. An "exercise vital sign" is a query by an intake by a medical assistant: ‘On average, how many days per week do you engage in moderate to strenuous exercise (like a brisk walk)?’ and ‘On average, how many minutes do you engage in exercise at this level?’. Response choices for days are 0–7, and minutes are recorded as 0, 10, 20, 30.........90, 120 and 150 or greater.
They had 103,337 study subjects with COVID of which 48,440 had 3 queries as to exercise. That became the study population. Being consistently inactive increased the odds of hospitalization 2.26-fold. Those with some activity had 1.89 times greater chance of hospitalization than those who were consistently meeting the activity guidelines. Finally, those who were regularly inactive had greater odds of being hospitalized 1.20 times over those patients who were doing some activity. These are major risks because other than age, and a history of organ transplant. Being consistently inactive conferred the highest odds for hospitalization with COVID-19 of any major risk factor.
Let that sink in. Other than age, and organ transplant inactivity is the riskiest thing you can do for COVID. (The study had an interesting statistical blip over pregnancy because a lot of admissions happened with pregnancy, making it look skewed towards risk. They were being admitted to deliver their babies. They, in fact, had a much lower risk of mortality.)
Inactivity is just plain dangerous for you.
www.What will Work for me. Being outdoors with moving air has been shown to produce a much lower risk for COVID. The moist particles COVID needs to survive likely dry out rapidly, and blow away. I must say, I discovered bike riding during COVID and find that that habit has stuck. I am older, male, with lousy genes for diabetes. I can do something about my diabetes by losing weight and avoiding sugar. I can't change the older, and male. But I can get 20 minutes of exercise every day. The dog insists on it.
1. What did this study show? Answer: Increased risk of severe COVID and hospitalization for those with the lowest risk of activity.
2. What are the other major risks the study points out for severe COVID? Answer: Male gender, age, organ transplant, diabetes, heart disease, obesity.
3. Why has the COVID pandemic made all the risks worse? Answer: That's simple. Lockdown makes you stuck indoors.
4. How much do I have to exercise to get the risk-lowering effect? Answer: Easy-peasy. 20 minutes of brisk walking.
5. Is there more risk reduction with more rigorous exercise? Answer: It was not studied. But if you want to do a deep dive, there is pretty good evidence that ketosis is helpful for the PDC block in COVID that makes it a lethal disease. So, a ketogenic diet is helpful. Exercise gets you into ketosis, getting you closer to a safer spot. It all flows and makes sense. Hence, the logic of ketone esters for COVID.
Heal Your Wounds Double-Quick with PEMF
Have you heard of PEMF? "Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field". The first research on it was done behind the Iron Curtain, which meant we didn't have much access to it. It is the application of low levels of electromagnetic fields to a wound, or a site of injury. The evidence for it has not been strong enough to merit FDA approval until non-union of fractures came along. When nothing else worked, PEMF finally made a measurable impact on broken bones that just wouldn't heal. That opened the door to more open thinking about it, and more research.
NASA has a PEMF device on the space station as a means of maintaining the health of astronauts in space. This raises an interesting issue. On earth, we are encased in an electromagnetic field of earth's magnetism. We don't feel it or see it. But many animals do. Migration of birds and bats is likely directed by it. That means it has been part of mammalian physiology since the very beginning. Just because our conscious brain does not sense it, doesn't mean our cells don't respond to it in some fashion or another. Deep in our genetic code is some awareness how to respond to those magnetic fields.
Well, they do.
In 2015, the FDA lowered its classification for PEMF devices from 3 to 2, making it easier for device manufacturers to advertise and sell them directly to the public. Its application does not make any harm in any circumstances, it's just the exaggeration of its effects that has the FDA worried. But there are now a whole host of "wellness" products, essentially yoga mats, with embedded PEMF coils in them that are on the market to have you lie on.
So, what about wounds? Did you know that there are some 60-80 amputations of limbs each year because of diabetic wounds that won't heal? The total cost for America is some $ 11 billion a year. At the personal level, folks with chronic ulcers and amputations lose mobility and independence. It is a health catastrophe in slow motion.
Guess what happens with PEMF in diabetic foot ulcers? They get better much faster. The most quoted study only lasted three weeks and studied folks given 14 treatments. In that short amount of time, patients already showed statistically valid improvements.
Now, everyone has an ache or a pain somewhere. Some arthritis, some recent surgery, some, inflammation that won't heal.......and PEMF devices are now affordable and available to the general public. Way beyond the scope of this week's newsletter, PEMF is being explored in many other venues. Just for example, follow this citation about cancer.
www.What will Work for me. I used a PEMF device that I bought for $ 450 from Micropulse when I had surgery on my heel, and the wound was being slow to close, the surgeon wanted me to consider a skin graft of some sort. I just got my Micro-Pulse and a battery recharger. I was on it 24 hours a day. The next week, the surgeon said, "Ok, it looks better this time," No graft. I was closing on my own. The two circles that make the pulsed magnetic wave can easily be wrapped in an ace wrap around any joint. 45 minutes a day is chump change. You can wear one 24/7 with no harmful side effects. My Micropulse finally wore out. I bought a new one to have on hand.
1. What is PEMF? Answer: Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy. The application of magnetic field to sites of injury, wounds, arthritis, chronic pain, cancer......
2.The first devices cost some $ 6500. What do they cost now? Answer: They are easy to manufacture so a good unit by Micropulse will run you about $ 450. There are cheaper ones now on the market but not yet proven by time.
3. We know exactly how PEMF works? Answer: excuse me. No. All we know is that cells respond nicely with faster growth of blood vessels and better blood flow.
4. We need to be careful about the toxicity of magnetic fields. T or F. Answer: We are living in magnetic fields all the time. Earth comes with one. Hard to imagine how that is harmful.
5. How do you use them? Answer: you lay the circular plastic pulse making device over your aching joint, your non-healing wound, your nonhealing fracture, your cancer......... and turn it on. You can leave it on 24-7. You can leave it on overnight. You can try 60 minutes at a time. All this is new to us. But you aren't going to be harmed by it.
Your Gut May be Dangerous for Your Brain
This is a major public health discovery. Researchers at LSU have just published the finding that the bacteria family Bacteroides fragilis make a lipopolysaccharide called BF-LPS, the most potent neurotoxin found to date. That's it. The bacteria that is present in your gut at all times, make a poison that gets out of your gut, into your blood, and proceeds to enter your brain and damage it.
"LPSs, in general, are probably the most potent microbial-derived pro-inflammatory neurotoxic glycolipids known," says Dr. Lukiw. "Many laboratories, including our own, have detected different forms of LPS within neurons of the Alzheimer's disease-affected human brain." as quoted to ScienceDaily.
The pathway of effect is fairly straightforward. The BF-LPS leaks out of the GI tract enters the bloodstream and is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier after which it enters brain cells. Inside the brain, it increases inflammation and inhibits a very specific cell-integrity protein called neuron-specific neurofilament light (NF-L,). Deficiency of this protein leads to progressive nerve cell atrophy, and then cell death, as is observed in Alzheimer's-affected neurons. In fact, you can measure elevated spinal fluid NF-L proteins up to 22 years before developing Alzheimer's. Spooky!
What's the solution? Go to the source. Change your gut by changing your diet. This is where saturated fat becomes a recognizable problem. Eating more bacon and corn-fed steak is dramatically increasing your saturated fat. That leads to higher levels of colonic Bacteroides. That leads to higher LPs in your blood. That leads to lower levels of NF-L. Increasing your Bifidobacter families of colonic bacteria do the opposite. And you get that by eating more fiber. Hence, more fruit and vegetables, more flax seed, and whole grains. How does this square with lectins? With Plasmalogens? Time will tell.
The LSU team also reported that adequate dietary fiber intake can head off the process. We Americans average somewhere in the 10-15 grams a day of fiber. If you can get your fiber up to 25 or better, 30 grams a day, you get a huge increase in Bifidobacter and a dramatic downregulation of Bacteroides. And if you take lactulose as a supplement, you get the same effect. Can you eat all the bacon you want and just take lactulose to make up for your sins? Not sure. Not studied. But better, get yourself sufficient fiber with lots of vegetables and flax seed, or even Metamucil and other forms of bulk fiber, and then take 5 grams of Lactulose a day. Lactulose comes with the added benefit of increased calcium and magnesium absorption.
www.What will Work for me. Well, now I understand why we need to be cautious with the so-called "Keto" diet that is based on meat. Corn and bean-fed animals get fat, just like we do when they eat too many concentrated carbohydrates. The fat they store is saturated fat that causes inflammation in us when we eat it. And now we know at least one dramatically damaging pathway by which that inflammation wreaks its havoc. I'm pretty good at keeping my keto diet intact by not eating till lunchtime, five days a week. That puts me into ketosis for at least 6 hours those 5 days. And if I stay away from sugar and white flour, I can keep my glucose below 100, most of the time. When I eat spinach and broccoli, asparagus, and salad, my glucose stays put. But fruit....not so good. So, I'm aiming to get my fiber from vegetables. Piles of them. And lactulose it is.
1. When you eat saturated fat (bacon, steak, butter, cheese - all from corn and bean-fed animals ) you encourage what group of bacteria in your colon? Answer: Bacteroides
2. What membrane lipid do those little Bacteroides make that gets into your blood? Answer: LPS's - lipopolysaccharide. Steven Gundry calls them "Little Pieces of S..."
3. What's so bad about BF-LPS, the lipopolysaccharide from Bacteroides? Answer: It is an intensely neurotoxic compound. Kills nerve cells.
4. What's so bad about nerve toxin in your gut? Answer: It has no problem getting into your blood and then soaking right into your brain. There it causes awful damage.
5. You can alter this process by doing what? Answer: Cut down on saturated fat, switch to grass-raised animals, and increase your fiber in your diet by lots more vegetables. Then you increase the Bifidobacteria in your gut. Ask for triple broccoli at the restaurant. Not double, triple. Skip the potatoes. Consider taking lactulose as a supplement to increase that even further.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Breast Cancer
You know turkey tail mushrooms. If you ever walk in the woods, you will see them as one of the more common mushrooms growing off tree trunks, like a circular shelf. If you look at the bottom of them, they look like a turkey tail, fanned out. They are found all over the world, In China and Japan, they have been used for years as immune boosting agents and in the treatment of a variety of cancers, most commonly breast cancer.
We don't have large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials in the US. That is our scientific standard of care. But I heard an anecdote of a midwestern woman with advanced breast cancer who started taking turkey tail mushroom and proceeded to get a full remission. A search of Pubmed finds that she is not alone.
Perhaps you would like to know about turkey tail. It's been around in Chinese medicine for millennia. What does it do?
To know how it works, you need to learn about the CR3 receptor in cancer. That's what turkey tail seems to modulate. In a clinical trial conducted in Washington, turkey tail appeared to show a faster rebound of immune function after radiation. Up to 9 grams a day was found to be safe and well tolerated.
The real question is whether the "home run" anecdote of a patient with advanced cancer who gets better is able to be duplicated in others. The problem arises in that medicinal plants have dozens, if not hundreds, of compounds, each of which has its own effect. In turkey-tail, only the compound PSK has been studied in isolation. In a randomized trial from Europe comparing PSK with tamoxifen versus tamoxifen and mitomycin over 5 years, survival in the PSK group was 89% while the mitomycin group came in at 94%. (P value 0.06, not quite significant). That's not a cure or an improvement. But it's only one compound out of the many hundreds, if not thousands in turkey tail.
That's the conundrum. The state of science as we now know it revolves around one, solitary compound, extracted and studied in isolation. There is no food of any kind that is one pure compound. All of our vitamins, proteins, and minerals come in mixes, and mixes are what we are designed to eat and react to. The development of complex, artificial intelligence may be able to parse out those complex interactions, but for now we are left with a shrug and a question mark.
www.What will Work for me. Traditional medicine has used foods for millennia and found them to be effective, in some circumstances. I think mushrooms have enough of a proven immuno-supportive role that they deserve further consideration. The Brits have published literature from their national nutritional survey showing improved cognitive function in those who eat more mushrooms. Good enough for me. I am a regular the "Mr Mushroom" at our farmers market.
1. What is turkey tail mushroom? Answer: One of the most common mushrooms found in the woods growing on decaying tree trunks.
2. Is it safe for me to pick it and eat it in the woods? Answer: If you are not an experienced mushroom hunter, no! Please let someone make the stuff for you. There are many vendors.
3. What dose is safe? Answer: 9 grams a day has been studied and is safe
4. How does it work? Answer: We really don't know but we think it has something to do with boosting the immune surveillance of your body against the ability of cancers to hide from your immune system.
5. Should we all be taking some mushrooms? Answer. Yes. Good for your brain, your immune system, and probably more if we got around to studying them. That is not likely to happen if you can't patent them. And when they grow freely in the woods, that won't happen.
Vitamin D Improves Clinical Function in Heart Failure
In 2004, a report of two cases from Great Britain of infants presenting in severe congestive heart failure was published. Literally, 6-week-old infants, were admitted to ICUs with huge, dilated hearts and all indications of severe congestive heart failure. There were found to be recent immigrants of African descent who had had no prenatal care. Their vitamin D levels were unmeasurably low. On being given Vitamin D, their congestive heart failure was completely cured. Cured.
In 2011, Great Britain with its national database reported more cases. Again, immigrant women of color (requiring much more sunlight to get sufficient Vitamin D,) with litte prenatal care had infants presenting with severe congestive heart failure. Again, unmeasurable Vitamin D. Again, cured completely with Vitamin D.
This author had just moved to the Aurora Sinai ER in Milwaukee and was struck by the number of young, African American men presenting to the ER in congestive heart failure. I measured Vitamin D in all of them and to a patient they were below 10. I gave all of them 100,000 IU three days in a row and made appointments with cardiologists, after printing out the above two papers to present to their cardiologists, trusting that the system would pick up on their deficiency.
This author went to the Department of Cardiology at St Luke's Medical Center with the above information in hand and suggested that Vitamin D should be added to the protocol for congestive heart failure, even if not on American Heart Association guidelines yet. I showed the 25 assembled cardiologists the publication from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology by Victor Soukoulis about Vitamin D, CoQ10, carnitine being inadequate. But we didn't have a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to prove its benefit. Nothing happened. I was informed that the cardiologists did procedures to reverse disease and were not in the business of nutritional supplements. I was discouraged. No, I was furious.
Now we have proof. With that background, this week's paper is huge. First of all, it was randomized, placebo-controlled, and multi-hospital in design. Seventy-three patients whose Vitamin D level was below 30 were given 4000 iu of Vitamin D for 6 months/or a placebo. The authors wanted to prove an improvement of "endothelial dysfunction" which is awful in congestive heart failure. That did not improve in 6 months. But the clients were able to walk further, had better blood pressure and fewer symptoms. Their Vitamin D levels rose from below 30 to about 50.
What is endothelial dysfunction? It is essentially the inability of the vessel walls to relax due to lack of nitric oxide. Simplified, it is high blood pressure that can't relax. It is the first step to developing coronary artery lesions because the high blood pressure proceeds to damage the walls of the artery. Ok, so one micronutrient, by itself didn't solve the whole picture. But Vitamin D improved all the other halo effects around the margins. All in just 6 months.
And was 4,000 enough for 6 months? No! If they had gotten weekly blood levels of D, they would have seen the levels climbing and very likely just got to 50 in the final week. They should have given a loading dose of 100,000 Iu to raise their blood level 14 ng. From 30, they would have been at 44 in one day and then, 6 months of 44 -50 would have showed even more benefit. And how about throwing in some CoQ10, carnitine, magnesium and ribose too! The study wasn't near long enough. Vitamin D turns on DNA and makes cells grow. That doesn't happen overnight. It takes weeks to get started. To get full effect, you likely need 1-2 years.
But don't complain. Instead, find any old person you know or are living with and make sure everyone you love and care for knows their Vitamin D, or at taking at least, at least, 4,000 IU a day. 5,000 is easier, One pill.
Folks over 70 make 20% of the Vitamin D of 20 year olds, given the same amount of sun. That's what our wrinkles are: the loss of cholesterol in our skin from which Vitamin D is made when UV radiation hits our skin. And our dermatologists yell at us for being out in the sun too much so we don't get sunlight anyway. And have you seen any folks over 70 in swimming suits lately....not many?
The paper's "Conclusion: A daily vitamin D dose of 4000 IU for chronic HF appears to be safe. This dosage did not improve endothelial function but did improve the 6-min walk distance, symptoms, and left atrial diameter at 6 months." This is enough. We have our randomized, placebo-controlled trial. I was not heeded 11 years ago. But I was right. And for that, I feel considerable satisfaction.
www.What will Work for me. I'm taking 30,000 IU of D every day and have a blood level of 140. I sleep better. My calcium is normal. I've written columns about that. For those of you with anyone in your circle with a "weak heart", please make sure they are on Vitamin D. It's proven. And I biked 20 miles yesterday.
1. What does Vitamin D for elderly with congestive heart failure? Answer: Helps them function better, walking further, and feeling less short of breath.
2. How does Vitamin D do that? Answer: unfair question. We didn't cover that. But Vitamin D controls 10% of the human genome and fundamentally is the hormone that turns on stem cells and has them develop into mature cells. A heart has to replace its muscle cells every 30 days. You need enough D to do that.
3. When you take 4000 IU of D a day, you are likely to get an overdose of the D. T or F. Answer: This is not a joke. There has been so much brouhaha over raising the daily minimum from 400 to 600, both laughably inadequate, that the thought that someone had the audacity to give 4000 Iu a day, sufficient to get a blood level of 50 after 6 months is simply wonderful. They proved it's safe. So, let's get everyone on 4,000 IU a day.
4. When you start a new course of Vitamin D and want to get your blood level up quickly, you should do what? Answer: You need a loading dose. 100,000 IU is safe. Those babies in England were given 600,000 IU. And they simply got better. No toxicity.
5. Pregnant women should have how much Vitamin D to have infants born with healthy levels of 50? Answer: 6400 IU a day. And studies from Finland show that babies who get 2,000 IU a day end up with 80% less insulin-dependent diabetes.
Glutathione, The Most Accurate Predictor of Cognitive Decline
Do you know what glutathione is? Wikipedia reports that it is your body's most important natural antioxidant and is "capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. That makes it hugely important. You want higher glutathione levels.
How do we get to cognitive decline and glutathione? Easy. It turns out glutathione is just about the most important antioxidant to protect your mitochondria. Your brain, particularly your frontal cortex that mediates "executive function", and which makes us human, has about 5,000 mitochondria per neuron. That is about the highest in the whole human body. Your brain uses a ton of energy, and needs a boatload of mitochondria to make it......... which means it needs a lot of glutathione to protect those mitochondria. It's your frontal cortex that takes it on the chin with Alzheimer's. That's the part of your brain that shrinks the most with Alzheimer's.
So, take 511 adults, employees of Emory University with an average of 18 years of education, average age of 49, 64% women and measure their glutathione, and a whole raft of cognitive functions. Follow them for four years and repeat all the testing yearly. What you find is that declining glutathione predicts loss of executive function more accurately than other testing...and proceeds loss of memory. It becomes a remarkable biomarker of future cognitive decline.
Well, well. That has been enough for authors to call for Glutathione to be given to folks with mild cognitive impairment (which is a lot of us who forget just why we opened the fridge and where, or where are my car keys.). The problem is that because it is just three amino acids hooked together, when you take it orally it gets lost in your gut and digested into the component amino acids.
But you can get it IV. It is relatively inexpensive to manufacture. And giving it IV only takes about 5 minutes. No side effects, no toxicity, no harm, no danger. I suspect with all the interest in it, there will be more means of giving it. Inhalational with a ventilator? Transdermal? Intranasal? I'm sure the ideas will come out.
www.What will Work for me. This study from Emory was an observational study, not a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. But I'm totally fixated on it. I've been taking IV glutathione myself to lower my own body-burden of environmental toxins. I have no side effects. I have a raft of clients who swear by it and come and get their IV fix once a week to once a month. We don't have proof that administration of it fixes things at all....yet. The accumulated evidence appears to be fascinatingly coherent. The biology and chemistry all fit, and make sense. I'm going to start measuring it in folks who are curious. We need to learn this stuff.
Meantime, did you know that when you take NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) you boost your own glutathione? How about at least a gram a day of NAD? Alpha lipoic acid boosts you too. As does turmeric. Take em all! Doses? Who knows. At least some.
References: Perlmutter, Jr Neuroinflammation, Neurochem International, Antioxidants, Wikipedia, AntiOxidant Redox Signal., Am Jr Alzheimer's Dis and Other Dementia, Jr Alzheimer's Dis, Jr Gerontology,
1. What is glutathione? Answer: Your first and foremost antioxidant in your blood. It complements your plasmalogens, which provide protection in your cell membranes.
2. . What happens with glutathione with aging? Answer: Super complex answer. Drops like a rock in folks who have serious disease (chicken? egg ?) but there are many studies that show healthy older folks have plenty.
3. This quoted study of 511 university folks showed what? Answer: Glutathione reduction predicted loss of executive function more accurately than memory.
4. You can easily replace it with oral supplementation? T or F? Answer: False. Liposomal forms help a little but orally is generally miserably ineffective.
5. There is good proof that IV glutathione fixes Alzheimer's. T or F. Answer: Whoa Nellie, not proven yet at all. Calls for study exist and there is a lot of interest in it. The barrier is the cost of IV administration for the long term. So, take NAC instead, and alpha lipoic acid and turmeric.
Lactulose to Supercharge your GI Tract
You have never heard about lactulose before. That's amazing because you probably should be on it for the rest of your life! This is interesting.
What is lactulose? It is an undigestable sugar made of galactose and fructose linked together. We have no enzymes to digest it. It passes right through our gut where our colonic biome loves it. Just plain love it. They have a party and the desirable lactobacilli and bifidobacter families, the really good ones, proliferate like crazy. And when that happens, your stool gets softer, you absorb more calcium and magnesium, and your immune system gets happy.
We have used lactulose for some 60 years for folks with end-stage liver disease who were getting mental confusion from too much nitrogen buildup. Give them lactulose and their brain fog gets better. And constipated kids have much better bowel movements. It works super well to help with severe constipation. But other than that, it has had little medical use, despite its proven safety. The discovery of our colonic biome as a really valuable organ has opened up the door to more investigation and lactulose has now emerged as a very powerful prebiotic. Good food for your colonic biome.
Here is what happens. It passes through your gut to your colon. In your colon, you chop it up into short-chain fatty acids, acetate, propionate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Said otherwise, that is a two-carbon, a three-carbon, and a four-carbon fatty acid. Your colon mass increases. Those short-chain fatty acids are the principal food for the cells of your colon, so first of all, your colonic wall gets fed. With increased biome mass, you pass on a lot of beta-hydroxybutyrate to your body. That is the principal ketone you make when you are fasting. It turns on all the good things we have been talking about in the prior several weeks. You increase brown fat. You uncouple mitochondria to burn off heat and help with weight loss. You activate your immune system. You renew your mitochondria. This is all good. (We know that gorillas, eating a pure vegan diet and munching for 7 hours a day convert the green leaves they are eating into beta-hydroxybutyrate with the net effect of getting some 55-70% of their calories from beta-hydroxybutyrate. That implies that a high vegetable diet is a short-chain fatty acid with tons of healthy BHB in it.)
But it's not just ketones (BHB) that you get with lactulose. You get increased calcium and magnesium absorption. That study took 24 young men and gave them a diet with 0 grams of lactulose, 2 grams or 4 grams a day. In a dose-dependent fashion, their absorption of both calcium and magnesium increased. In aging mice, lactulose reverses the bone loss of menopause by this effect. You want to build better bones? Start with building a better colonic biome with lactulose! (Hasn't been proven in humans, and may never be. Not enough money behind it. It's generic and too cheap.)
What is the dose and how can you get it? Oddly, it is prescription only because of its use in liver failure, where it is dispensed in 15-gram packets. That's not how much most of us otherwise healthy folks need. Two grams a day, split into two doses may be enough for some petit, slender women. Four grams a day, six grams a day....we don't know your dose until you try it.
www.What will Work for me. We have here the introduction of a prebiotic that encourages the growth of the most desirable colonic species, lactobacilli, and bifidobacteria. You make it easier to have soft, easy-to-pass bowel movements. Your immune system has a cross-talking conversation. Your body gets more ketones. Your bones get more calcium. This stuff should be on your dining room table and sprinkled on all your food.
1. What is lactulose? Answer: An indigestible sugar that works as a powerful prebiotic to nourish your colonic biome. That helps the probiotic bacteria you are taking to take hold and multiply. (Other good prebiotics are Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root - two hard-to-find substances.)
2. What fatty acids are made as a result of taking lactulose? Answer: Just count. 2-carbon, 3-carbon, and four-carbon fatty acids, clumped into the acronym SCFAs (short chain fatty acids.)
3. What role do those SCFAs have? Answer: they are the principal food for your colonic cell walls, and represent the form of energy flow from your colon into your body.
4. What happens to bone metabolism with lactulose? Answer: Well, proven in mice to help. Not yet studied in humans.
5. If I'm constipated, do I have a healthy colon? Answer: NO! America has a runaway problem with diverticulosis because we are way too constipated, leading to higher pressures in our colons, leading to "hernias" in our gut wall called diverticula. That's just one sign. Constipation means your colonic biome is really damaged, and that has emerging huge implications for general immune health.