Monthly Archives: February 2015

Eggs and Butter get a Pardon

Reference: Washington Post Feb 2015, 2015 Executive Summary, New York Times

The new Guidelines for 2015 are out!   And a subtle shift is happening of monumental proportions. Eggs are back! The long standing hostility to eggs and butter has been lifted with simply silence.   No one is saying, “We were dead wrong” but instead have come out with a much, much stronger recommendation that we eat less sugar.

The core diet they are recommending is less sugar, more vegetables, less red and processed meat (sausage, baloney, hotdogs) and more healthy fats from nuts and seeds and “vegetable oils.”   (Here is where I take difference with them.)

But eggs are back! You can eat eggs again. They admit that the very tiny percent of people whose dangerous blood fats go up with eggs are too small a minority to justify guidelines for the whole population.

They do recommend that a broadly shaped “Mediterranean Diet” be followed that has more vegetables, less sugar, more white meat. But I remain skeptical as to just what part of the Mediterranean they are talking about. There are some 14 – 16 countries that are around or in the Mediterranean, and each has a different cuisine.   I suspect there is an amalgam of ideas with more olive oil (really good for you) and fish (even better) and vegetables (best) but the recipes are different everywhere. Fresh, locally grown food with fish and vegetables are common in Thailand, the Philipines, Japan, Peru, Ecuador, South Africa….on and on. Aren’t they Mediterrean too?

What they don’t strictly address is how to lose weight. Maintaining is one thing, losing is another. I would maintain that this is the revolution that ultimately needs to happen. Teach us how to lose weight, effectively and forever!   The Guidelines Committee made the horrific blunder in the late 70s of telling us to eat more carbs and less fat, and we all got horribly obese. They were dead wrong.   Just plain wrong. They have yet to admit guilt and say sorry. I would like a sorry.

But the science is now there about how to lose weight.   And hints of it are in the guidelines. The best hint is the recognition front and center how dangerous sugar is. Sugar, even the flavor sweet, turns on insulin. Insulin is also turned on by the flavor sweet.   And even more devious, too much protein (More than 1-1.5 grms per ideal kg body weight per day) and your body turns the extra protein into glucose, and that turns on insulin. To lose weight, you must simply turn off insulin. With insulin gone, your fat cells open up and share their calories seamlessly and effortlessly with your body. That’s it. Simple. You have to turn off insulin. (Note, you also lose weight if you eat low enough glycemic carbs: alkali diet or vegan).

The “teleological explanation” is helpful. The time of year we naturally want insulin is August and September, when carbohydrate foods are plentiful, delicious and winter is just around the corner. To survive winter, we should gorge and fatten up. Insulin is the tool to do that. But come winter, to survive, we need access to that which we stored.   If you eat carbs, your body thinks it’s September. Plain and simple. If you eat fat, your metabolism thinks it’s winter, and your insulin is turned off. Anytime you eat any carbs, you put out insulin and for the next 12 hours, you won’t lose an ounce of fat weight. Insulin is intimately tied up with your appetite. (There are many more but I’m simplifying it).   If insulin is turned off, your fat cells open up and your appetite stays in control. Your brain learns to run on ketones (pieces of fat being chopped up).   You can get along on 1400 calories a day and feel fine. And that’s called weight loss.

Long term, what do you want?   Here, the Guidelines committee is finally getting it right (mostly). Much less sugar, less refined flour. More vegetables.   More omega fat containing meats. Less fake meats. Less feed lot meats. It’s clear that in the long term, more red meat makes for turning on cancer genes and acidifying you. In the short term, it’s far more important to lose weight than worry about the risk of red meat. Lose the weight, then lose the red meat. (Be like the eskimos, eat the fat of the caribou and save the meat for dogs.)

But central to all of this is the admonition to avoid fat is lifted. Eggs are two thirds fat, one third protein. They are ideal weight-loss foods. You can eat eggs. All the eggs you want. And your weight will go down and your waist will go down.

WWW. What will work for me. I embarked on a weight loss program on Dec 29th. I’m eating 4 eggs every day. Two for breakfast and two for lunch. No bread. I’m not hungry. I’m averaging about 1200 calories a day and feel fine. I do need an extra blanket and a sweater to stay warm. That could be the 5 degree temperature outside. (I’m down 16 pounds in 8 weeks.)   My body believes it’s winter.   It’s sharing its fat with me.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Eating eggs will help you lose weight?   T or F

True

  1. Why

Because they are high fat, modest protein and make you feel full with only 90 calories each.

  1. Why do you feel full?

Because your insulin is turned off and your appetite doesn’t kick in

  1. What season does your body think it is if you are eating just fat?

Winter

  1. Our bodies were designed to eat what in winter?

Fat

  1. To lose weight, you have to eat fat. T or F

True

  1. That makes eggs?

“The perfect food for weight loss”. Back in style.   Eat up. (Buy the good ones naturally raised with more omega fats in them)

Copper, Zinc and Alzheimer’s

Balancing Zinc and Copper

Reference: Brewer, Inter Jr of Alzheimer’s

Just about 50% of us are going to have Alzheimer’s when we get to age 85. Pleasant thought, isn’t it? As baby boomers boom, the number of folks with cognitive decline is skyrocketing.   Want to be part of that?   Of course not! So read this article.

How do we get in trouble with copper?   We have a lot of it in our environment. Most homes have copper piping. Copper leaches out of that. We take vitamin pills and other supplements. The copper in our piping is an organic salt that acts differently than what is in foods and vegetables, where it is organically bound. It goes directly into our blood copper supply where it has a bunch of bad effects: it contributes to a decline in cognition and is generally found to be elevated in Alzheimer’s.

Along with copper being elevated, zinc is lower in Alzheimer’s.   Zinc and copper seem to have an interesting relationship to one another. The more you have of one, the lower the other. But that’s what Brewer demonstrated in this week’s article.   His group took 29 folks with Alzheimer’s and compared them to 29 controls. No one was taking any supplements.   Now young folks have zinc levels around 100 μgm/dL.   As we age, it naturally declines so that the control group in this study was at 83 μgm/dL. The Alzheimer’s group was at 76 μgm/dL. That’s a lot lower.

Zinc plays a critical role in the brain. It calms down the excitation brought about by the neurotransmitter glutamate.   Glutamate can become toxic and cause so much firing that neurons can actually die from too much of it. That is thought to be the means by which MSG damages brains and accounts for some of the symptoms of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”.   Zinc may also play a calming role in that it turns off the protein called calcineurin.  Calcineurin activity is high in Alzheimer’s patients, so being uninhibited is terrible.

With that information in hand, Dr Brewer did a treatment trial of Alzheimer’s patients, and zinc. They concocted a formulation of slow release zinc and gave it in a randomized fashion to Alzheimer’s patients.   Their study has some nuance in it as to age and severity of the Alzheimer’s, but as a general rule, the treated patients improved over the untreated to a level of statistical significance.

This is huge.   It’s not the only or even the whole story with Alzheimer’s. It’s part of the picture.   But it’s one you can pay attention to throughout your life. Part of your data dashboard should be to have your copper and zinc levels measured and understood.     We want your zinc level to be at least 90, 100 would be better. Your copper should be below 35, 30 would be better.

WWW. What will work for me.   I don’t know the whole story. My home has copper piping. I’m going to check my levels.   I take zinc as a supplement already but I’ve never measured myself. I did this article just to help me learn. Follow and read the hyperlinks above.   Read the material yourself.   If no one else will check you, come see me. If cognitive decline is an issue for you, come see me sooner.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Zinc levels naturally decline as you age? T or F

True

  1. Copper levels are higher in people with copper pipes in their homes. T or F

True

  1. A high copper level is associated with brain chemistry trouble in Alzheimer’s. T or F

Bingo

  1. A low zinc level is also associated with brain chemistry trouble in Alzheimer’s.   T or F

Double bingo

  1. Giving zinc to Alzheimer’s patients has been shown to stabilize and reverse some measures of cognitive decline? T or F

That’s it!

  1. Getting your zinc and copper levels measured and followed might be an important part of your personal “data dashboard”.

It will be for me from hereon out.

Statins Lower Testosterone Levels in Men

Statins Lower Testosterone Levels in Men

Reference: Endokrnyologia Polska Dec 2014

Statins are the number one drug prescribed in the world.   The power of big pharma to influence policy has led to suggestions that we put statins in the water, such is the enthusiasm of their advocates.   Their utility has been “magnified” and exaggerated by the confusion of the general public, and doctors between relative and absolute risk.   Example, if your risk of death from a heart attack is 2.3%, and it gets lowered to 1.9% if 100 people take the drug for 5 years, it sounds like a 30% reduction instead of a 1.4% reduction.   When you say 30%, it sounds impressive.

Given that, a full exploration of some of the real long term damage done by statins has not been rigorously pursued.   That is curious because the statins are, in fact, a blunt instrument. They block the production of cholesterol. Cholesterol is the entry point for most of the important hormones in your body:   estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA, the mineralocorticoids and testosterone. That’s quite a portfolio of hormones that are being block.   Well, are they blocked?

The answer is YES! This article is nicely done. It looked at a population of 237 men and examined the effect of statins on those already taking them, versus not.   The total T was 14.9 vs. 16.35 nmol/L, free testosterone 32 vs. 39 pmol/L, and bioavailable T 32 vs. 39 pmol/L in age matched controls, with controls for body weight.   The P values (statistical significance) reached over 0.01 in all measures.   This should be alarming. Statins lower your testosterone.   There goes muscle strength, immune function, libido, brain vitality, bone health…..and all the myriad beneficial functions of statins.

I’m going to reiterate my interpretation of what your blood cholesterol represents.   You can keep your testosterone and lower your cholesterol in just a few weeks. It’s simple.   The LDLs in your blood represent your body’s inability to process and burn the carbohydrates you are ingesting. You are eating too many “high glycemic” foods from potatoes and rice, to bread and anything made from flour or corn. The carbohydrates spill over and turn on insulin.   Insulin instructs your liver to make fat, which it obediently does. Your liver can’t store much of that fat, though it tries. The rest it puts into little transport packages to move the fat cells. You have to do the moving in your blood.   The LDLs in your blood represent just that, eating too many high glycemic carbs. That’s what we call those little transport packages: LDLs.   So, it’s eating carbs that raise your blood fats, and in not eating them that you lower them. Fat is insulin neutral. You can have all the fat you want and it won’t affect the dangerous small LDLs that cause cardiac disease.   It’s those LDLs that are in turn “glycated” by your high blood glucose floating around.   Those glycated LDLs are the real trouble-makers. Your immune system thinks they look like bacteria invading your blood stream and put out a torrent of immune markers to mobilize the white cells to kill off those invading bacteria. (All natural bacteria have sugar markers on their surface.   The immune receptors that line your blood vessels can’t tell the difference between an LDL glycated by your eating too many carbs, and an invading streptococcus.   Now, you have glycation and inflammation running amuck. But the cause was eating too many carbs.   You don’t have a statin deficiency, you have a carb super-sufficiency.

www. What will work for me.   Seeing as just about every male in America has lower testosterone as a consequence of all the “xeno-estrogens”, we don’t need yet another challenge. Taking a statin makes sense only if you can’t push away the next donut, bagel, baked potato, cookie or sundae. Want to prove it for yourself? Stop by and let us draw your blood and conduct a two week experiment of no carbs. Measure again and we will prove to you the truth of this column. And then, keep your own testosterone. Voila!

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Testosterone is a hormone your body manufactures from cholesterol? T or F

True

  1. The statin class of drugs inhibits the production of all cholesterol? T or F

True

  1. This paper showing that statins reduce testosterone should not be a surprise. T or F

True

  1. You should take a statin if you can’t change your life style of eating lots of carbohydrates.   T or F

True, if 1.4% change in risk for heart disease scares you silly.

  1. Most men in America already have lower testosterone than 50 years ago? T or F

True

 

 

 

Sitting Too Long is Bad for You

Sitting Too Long is Bad for You

Reference:   Annals of Internal Medicine Jan 2015

How bad?   This is a big problem. I spend all day sitting. I’m a “knowledge worker”. You know, indoor work, no heavy lifting.   Computer, desk, phone and intellectual work.   Eight hours a day. Sound like you?  (Then I go home and slump over on the lazy boy in front of the TV – at least in winter.)

Ok, these guys took a serious look at the literature and found 47 studies that looked at mortality, hospitalizations, cancer, diabetes, heart disease against the variable “how long you sit”.   They did admit to quite a bit of variability in the studies, and listed that as one draw back. But regardless of physical activity outside of the sedentary time, there was fairly dramatic strong associations with sedentary time and all the list above: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hospitalizing and just plain not living as long.  It was across all studies.  This is what we call a “Meta-analysis”, combining the data of all pertinent research to answer big, hard questions.

What were the numbers?   Their data shows numbers like a hazard ratio of all cause mortality of 1.24. That basically means you die 24% faster.   Get it? Hazard ratio for heart disease was 1.179.   That’s about 18% more heart disease. No matter how much you go to the gym, exercise outside of work or work out on weekends, you get heart disease 17.9% more just by sitting too much.    Cancer mortality? Also 17%.   Cancer incidence was 13%. Type II diabetes? 91%.   And that may be the key link. Your diabetes risk goes up, meaning your blood sugar goes up and that leads to higher blood fats, inflammation and glycation which are the real cause of heart disease.

The authors did note that the effect was more pronounced in those who spent more time being completely sedentary, but going to the gym for 30 minutes was not protective if you then sat for 8 hours.   There was about a 30% variability in risk between those who didn’t exercise at all with those who did, do it’s not completely accurate to portray this as a complete disqualification of exercise. But it is a risk to sit. In fact, you can put it on a par with smoking. It might be the one other most serious risk to us, besides eating diets of sugar and carbohydrates and getting fat from that. Going to the gym is very noble, it’s just not enough when you erase the benefit by sitting the rest of the day.

What’s not known yet is just how much sitting can we really get away with. The authors suggest that we should aim for a two to three hour reduction.   Maybe you don’t need to do it all at work. How about learning to stand more at home. Use your imagination. Create a hobby at a work bench where you can stand, instead of sit.

WWW. What will work for me. Ok, I’ve been talking about this forever.   I need to get over my putzing around, doing nothing. The data is there and it’s powerful. Neither you nor I can let ourselves sit every day, all day.   Find a way to re-craft your work environment so that you stand part of the day. Make a grease board on your office wall.   Put in a higher counter so that you can stand while your work. Make your phone calls standing.   Express support and admiration for those early adaptors who have already done it. Talk to your office design company!   They’ve got ideas.   But most of all, ask me what I did in my office next time you see me. I’m determined to get over my lazy ass attitude and get a grease board so that I can stand. I draw a lot of pictures on pads of paper. Time to do on the wall, so I’m standing.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Sitting a lot has the ability to increase your risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, early mortality, more hospitalizations. T or F

Yup

  1. Sitting 8 hours a day may be almost as bad as smoking. T or F

True.

  1. Exercising has some benefit, much of it undone by 8 hours of sitting.

Yes, it appears that the good exercisers do decrease their risk by about 30% over those who never lift a finger. That means their risk is only 70%. That’s still up.

  1. We know how much you need to stop sitting. T or F

Not yet.

  1. Reasonable goal would be to cut down 2-3 hours a day of sitting.

That’s the author’s advice.