Monthly Archives: May 2010

Excitotoxins #1: How to Turn Your Brain to Jelly

Excitotoxins:  How to Turn Your Brain to Jelly

Reference  The Taste That Kills, Blaylock

Competency: Brain Health

What’s an excito-toxin?  It’s a chemical that turns on your brain in a fashion that causes damage by the stimulation that it causes.  I want to learn how that works.  This is a story worthy of a spy novel.  So, I’m going to start at the beginning.  The Pacific Theatre of World War II found island hopping Marines taking over islands from the Japanese and immediately going for the Japanese K rations.  They tasted much better than the boring old American food.  The Quartermaster of the army was a bit miffed, wondering what made the Japanese food taste so much better.  After the war was over enquiry into Japanese food methods showed it to be the forerunner to MSG.  At the time the Japanese were using seaweed extract as a flavor enhancer, but the blossoming of modern chemistry soon figured out the responsible chemical.  Mono sodium glutamate was the key.  The Quartermaster General of the US Army asked American food manufacturers to beef up their flavor of K rations or the army wouldn’t buy from them.  At that point MSG had been added to food as a seaweed extract, so it was in relatively small doses.  In the years following World War II, a variety of new techniques were used to learn how to make it in greater purity.  It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Ajinomoto Company of Japan figured out how to make it in a more concentrated form by bacterial fermentation.  But the secret was out.  It wasn’t just the army that wanted flavor enhancement.  Every food manufacturer who wanted to sell more flavorful food wanted in.  And America was the waiting laboratory to try it out.

It wasn’t long before our food manufacturers found that folks liked MSG.  It made food taste wonderful.  And since glutamate was just an amino acid it could be found in other sources of protein.  A little imagination with waste vegetable products and manufacturers found that they could take vegetable sources of protein, break up the protein chains into pieces and a lot of free glutamate would be released.  The chemical process of breaking it up was called “hydrolyzing” so “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” was born.  That’s just another name for MSG and it also is a nifty taste enhancer.  Is that cool or what?  You could take all the carrot peels from shaping nice mini carrots and boil it up and sell it as MSG and no one would know it by the name of MSG.

The problem…..was that it didn’t take long to find the problem.  MSG seemed to do a bunch of dangerous things in lab animals.  In rats it was found to damage sensitive nerve cells in the back of the eye.  Rats treated with it also became very obese.  Bit by bit the picture was put together that MSG damaged parts of the brain that were very sensitive to chemical intrusion.   A Dr. John Olney was studying the retina of rats exposed to MSG and found that those nerve cells died.  But the rats also got obese.  And that correlated with damage to parts of the most sensitive part of the brain called the hypothalamus.

And here is the rub.  There were a lot of companies selling a lot of MSG, and a lot of food companies finding that we all really liked MSG added to their food.  So, a few dead nerve cells in the back of rat eyes shouldn’t be all that big a deal.

WWW.  What will work for me?  It’s critical that you know what MSG will do to you.  We all need a primer on MSG.  This story is like a great CSI crime story.  Only you are the victim.  Tune in next week and we will uncover the next clue in the story.  But start this week by looking at food products you buy.  See if you can find it.

Vitamin D and Pregnancy: 3 Stories

Vitamin D and Pregnancy:  3 Stories

Competency:  Vitamin D

Reference:  Adit Ginde, University of Colorado, Journal of Obstetrics June 2009

The first story about Vitamin D in pregnancy comes from Colorado where Dr. Ginde reports that 70% of pregnant American women are deficient in Vitamin D.  Low levels of D in pregnant mothers have been associated with higher rates of asthma in their children.  Being low in pregnancy is a problem.  But that’s not the only problem we find.

In a study from Australia, reported also this month, mothers who delivered at the end of Australian winter (Oct) had children with a 30% increased risk for multiple sclerosis.  Being born at the end of winter means mom didn’t have sunshine opportunity while the pregnancy was at its peak.  The implications of this are big.  We have known that the lifetime risk for autoimmune disease boils down to several key factors.  Your own genes are part of the picture, but your environment is also a key part.  Early childhood D clearly protects from later life MS, and probably many autoimmune diseases.  This study shows that Vit D exposure in pregnancy also plays a part.  You are having your genes set for life, even while in the womb.  Your mother getting adequate vitamin D while pregnant with you, sets your risk for MS.

And the last story this month comes from Dr. Hollis presenting in Vancouver his data from South Carolina about Vitamin D in pregnancy.  His research shows that giving mothers 4000 IU a day while pregnant leads to a 50% reduction in the risk of premature delivery.  It also leads to dramatic improvements in risk for early infections in infancy.  Drs. Hollis and Wagner have published earlier work that shows that it actually takes 6400 IU a day to get to a blood level around 50-60 ng in pregnant mothers, which is what humans naturally get to when they have sufficient sunshine.  Pregnant mothers need more because of the needs of the baby.

How does this all weave together?  Simple.  Vitamin D  is essentially your stem cell supporting hormone.  With adequate D, your stem cells are able to mature into mature cells and do their function properly.  Babies are nothing but stem cells, so it should be no surprise they need lots of D.  A uterus, rapidly expanding to accommodate a pregnancy is full of stem cells.  With adequate D in pregnancy, you can reduce your risk of C-section some 75%.  We shouldn’t be advocating for super high doses.  We should be battling the stubborn resistance against the logical notion that a normal blood level of D is what we are seeking.  And normal is what humans do when they have daily, abundant sunshine.  That leads to a blood level of about 55-60 ng.  That’s not toxic.  No one has ever gotten sick with that.  It takes most folks having about 4000-5000 IU of D a day to keep that level up.  But it ‘s the blood level we want.  You get a lot of protection if your level is at least 32 ng and above.  But many, many women are 15 and below.  And it is to their and their baby’s peril.  Let’s change that.

WWW: What will work for me.  I’m not thinking of doses any more.  I’m talking blood levels.  And I’m calling D a hormone more and more.  It is a hormone.  It talks to your DNA and sets your course for life.  Let’s wipe out MS, and asthma, and all the other awful autoimmune diseases like insulin dependent diabetes that have been strongly associated with improved lifetime risks with proper D dosing.

Break Your Bones #3: Acid from Food

Break Your Bones #3: Acid from Food

Competency: #5 The Way to Eat

Reference:  Building Bone Vitality by Michael Castleman and Amy Joy Lanou, McGraw Hill May 5th, 2009

We’ve learned that eating more calcium does not reduce fractures last week.  We’ve learned that societies that eat the most calcium and drink the most milk have, in fact, the highest fracture rates in the world.  Why do northern European and American populations have greater fracture risks?  The hypothesis is all about “acid” in your diet.

Here is how that works.  When you eat food you break down all the molecules in the food into the simplest components so that your body can rebuild those building blocks into proteins, fats and carbohydrates that humans use. All that digestion ends up with different waste products or “ash” from different food sources.  It’s actually pretty simple.  The “ash” from all animal foods is a wee bit of acid.   The “ash” from all plants is a wee bit of alkali.

Now, your internal acid/alkali balance is extremely critical to keep in balance.  Your kidneys have to balance it to a very fine and precise ratio.  If you eat acid, your kidneys have to get rid of the acid.  If you eat too much alkali, you have to get rid of the alkaki.  Your natural pH is actually slightly alkaline.  Your normal pH is about 7.4 + .05.    Here is our human design complication.  Our kidneys love alkali and do just fine with it, thank you very much.  With acid, well, not so much.  We balance the acid by soaking up some bicarbonate out of our blood.  The bicarb comes along with a calcium atom.  And……..(drum roll….)……that calcium is borrowed from your bones.  In fact, for every gram of animal protein you eat, you borrow about 1 mg of bone calcium.  Yup, one milligram for every gram.  For a hamburger, that has 20 grams of protein in it, you lose about 20 mg of net calcium from your skeleton.   There it is.  That’s the mystery.

 

Animal protein has more amino acids that have sulfur atoms attached to them and have an acidic effect that needs balancing out.  To make matters a bit worse, our tendency to eat table salt makes it even harder to balance things out.  Vegetables come along with lots of magnesium and potassium bicarbonate salts that our kidneys use to balance the acid.  With animal foods, we don’t have those neutralizing salts.

So the scene is set for losing calcium from our bones by the animal protein we eat.  The more we eat, the more we lose.  A supplement doesn’t make up for it.  There are societies all around the world who average only 500 mg of calcium a day and who have very healthy dense bones and low fracture rates.  In America and Western Europe, we keep trying to get to 1,000 mg a day and even with that our bones are too thin.

WWW: What Will Work for Me?  The analogy that works is that of a bath tub.  If you want to have a full bath, you have to plug the drain as well as run the water.  We’re trying to run the water faster and faster while the drain remains wide open.  We eat more and more calcium without cutting down on our acid.  It doesn’t work.  Next week.  How to really get dense bones, naturally.  (We aren’t quite this simple.  How about some exercise and Vit D too)