Monthly Archives: February 2016

Testosterone and the Risk of Alzheimer’s in Men

Testosterone and Risk of Alzheimer’s in Men

Reference: Moffat Neurology 2004,

Testosterone, all about men’s sexual health, right?   Well, that is true, and it certainly is what most men think is most important, but it’s certainly not all. And here we have today a reference study of the importance of testosterone to men’s brain health.

The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of men’s health started in 1958 and followed men for a mean of 19.1 years, and as long as 37 years. They had physical exams with neurological testing and blood work every other year.   Five hundred and seventy four men were included in the Alzheimer’s and testosterone study group.   That is a pretty strong sample group, for a pretty long time, so this study should have something valid to say.   After accounting for all possible confounding variables, like diabetes, cancer, smoking, age, education, hormone supplements and the like, they were left with the connection between testosterone levels and risk for Alzheimer’s.   Total testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin didn’t seem to have any connection with Alzheimer’s, but free testosterone did.   In fact, for every 10 nmoles increase in free testosterone, there was a 26% reduction in risk for the development of Alzheimer’s.

What is free testosterone? It is the proportion of testosterone in your blood that is available for your tissue to actually use.   Here is the explanation.   Testosterone is built from the cholesterol molecule.   Cholesterol is in the fat family, meaning it is not water soluble. If it isn’t water soluble, it can’t be moved around the body in the transport system we call blood. Blood is made of water and fat doesn’t dissolve in water. The human body has come up an ingenious method of moving it. Sex hormone binding globulin is that method. It is a protein, made in the liver, that has an internal pocket that welcomes fat; it is “hydrophilic”.   High levels of insulin and growth hormone lower it, whereas estrogen and thyroxine raise it. It needs zinc to hold itself together in the form that binds it.

These other hormones don’t need to change it much to have a big impact.   Considering that you only have about 0.1-0.3% of your total T as the “free” stuff, it only takes a small shift to alter your natural free T. There is some debate as to what a proper free T should be, but this is where the rubber meets the road. Many physicians consider a free T3 of 8 pg to be enough.   Well, I have come to recognize that it takes at least 35 pg to feel really good.   Many good things happen then? Remember the male brain?

Now, if we apply that metric to the above study, we will find that the house of medicine will give you a clean bill of health with a free T of 8 pg. But it we raise you to 38pg, that is 3 notches of 10 pg each, and that will lower your risk of Alzheimer’s by 78%.

Well, wait a minute.   The above study shows that men who have higher free T on their own have less risk of Alzheimer’s.   That is not to say that we can prove that raising it by outside means will lower your risk. It isn’t the same thing. There may be other reasons you have high free T3 and those other reasons then account for your lower risk. And giving you T may not provide those other reasons.   So, it’s not yet proven, and likely will never be because there is no money in it. But you will either feel better, or not care because your brain is happy.

www.What Will Work for Me?   I’m interested in this. I have a mother with Alzheimer’s.   I want my free Testosterone to be optimal. It’s something every man should be paying attention to.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. For every 10 pgram increase in Testosterone, men have a 26 percent increase in risk for Alzheimer’s Disease? T or F

False. You didn’t read the article. That’s backwards. DECREASE

  1. Optimal Levels of Free T3 in a man are around 8 picograms. T or F

False. We want you at least 32 picrograms

  1. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin can muck things up by making your free T3 be all bound up? T or F

True

  1. You can raise SHBG by having too much estrogen. T or F

True

  1. You have have too much estrogen by being overweight? T or F

True

2016 Food Guidelines Are Here

2016 Food Guidelines are Here! Seismic Shift

Published: Feb 22, 2016

Reference:   J Acad Nutrit Diet, Health.gov,

Finally, the 2015 Guidelines have been published – 6 months late. So they called them 2016 Guidelines and haven’t even actually published them, just a teaser page saying they are coming and a reference to studies looking at Healthy Eating Index, or HEI. They claim to have extracted data from 34 high quality studies released as late at May 10, 2014 from fifteen different cohort populations, covering over 1,020,000 people. Those who followed the healthiest diets had risk reductions as much as 21% for the onset of chronic disease. That’s pretty good, but for the fact that they didn’t release any guidelines! Did you get that? It’s just a promise that they are coming in the months ahead. (That much delay means that much controversy and change behind the scenes.)

Why is that important? Well, it is important because 20% of America’s meals come from institutions that have to follow those guidelines. Every school child, every hospital, every nursing home, prison, armed force dining room, dietician in health care facility must follow those guidelines. And it should be noted that those people and those institutions, when following our guidelines have brought us the largest public health disaster in history, by ushering in the current obesity epidemic in America.   They got it dead wrong in the 1970s with the first food pyramid, adopted visually from Sweden that then had one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world.

We do have clues at to what is coming. Science Friday, a Public Radio program reviewed some of America’s most esteemed leaders in nutrition and disease prevention, Walter Willet and Steve Nissen from the Cleveland Clinic.   What we heard on that segment were some intriguing thoughts. For one, eggs are no longer on the “hate list”. In fact, there will be no prohibition at all against dietary cholesterol. Did you get that? After 40 years of bashing eggs and eating egg beaters, eggs are off the list of foods to avoid. (Some irony as I was at the grocery store last night looking at a woman taking 4 pints of Egg Beaters off the shelf.) In fact, the revolution appears to be even bigger than that.   They noted that the “Mediterranean Diet” was better for heart disease prevention than the American Heart Association Diet.

Ok, so what is the Mediterranean Diet? It is from the Mediterranean, but no one can tell you what it is, as there are 23 countries on the Mediterranean, all with different cuisines. But they tend to have some things in common. Mostly, fat. Olive oil. In fact, you can just substitute 50% fat, mostly olive oil, lots of vegetables and much, much less sugar, and you get the Mediterranean diet.

Much, much less sugar. Did you get that?   The NPR Science Friday basically came down on sugar and refined flour. That is the principal enemy, not fat. And the interview on NPR suggested that instead of a ceiling on fat, we should likely have a floor on fat. Eat no less than 40% fat. So, the recommendations are to cut your sugar in half.   Oh dear. We all like sugar.

WWW. What’s My Take on This? Hooray. Finally. I can’t wait to see details, and then the 2020 Guidelines. To reverse this current epidemic of chronic disease, we all need to lose weight first. That takes a diet that turns off insulin, and that is typically 70% fat, with NO sugar or carbs. But a long term healthy diet.   The Government seems to be edging to get it right. Finally. It’s timid, it’s slow but it’s a start. Perhaps we can finally get rid of low fat, chocolate milk in schools. And I’m eyeing my Chocolate on Chocolate Dove Bars in the freezer. Longingly.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. The Mediterranean Diet is mostly olive oil, lots of vegetables, 50% of calories from fat, much less sugar and white flour?   T or F

That’s it

  1. The new food guidelines are clear about what we should do next? T or F

False

  1. As best as we can tell from radio interviews, the ceiling on fat is out, meaning you can eat eggs.   T or F

True

  1. These huge changes have shown up in research. T or F

Yes. We have finally learned how to do chronic disease research instead of taking the opinions of experts.

  1. The most concrete thing you can personally do is commit to cutting down on sugar.

True. There goes my stash of Dove Bars.

Alkaline Diet Slows Down Cancer

Alkaline Diets Slow Down Cancer

Reference: Science Daily Feb 2016

The pH of your cells is normally ever so slightly alkaline on the outside, and ever so slightly acidic on the outside.   Absolutely neutral pH is 7.0, and 7.2-7.6 is what you find on the outside of normal cells.   Cancer cells have a pH roughly 0.4 units below that on the outside.   And what is so interesting is that the opposite occurs on the inside. Normal cells are every so slightly acidic on the inside, and cancer cells are more so.

Now, rapidly growing cells have a transient reversal of their alkaline, acidic pH gradient. And cancer cells even more so. In fact, it is a hallmark of cancer that they are persistent in their reverse gradient of pH. Very acidic environments are toxic to normal cells, and are quite happily tolerated by cancer cells, giving cancer cells an advantage to grow and spread.   That acidity up-regulates proteolysis, genomic instability, immunosuppression, therapeutic resistance and angiogenesis – all hallmarks of what cancer does to destroy tissue.   This reversal happens quite early in the life of a cancer, and may, in fact be essential for cancer so get started.   Cancers have a more alkaline internal pH and this turns on glucose burning, giving them energy.   Normally, if you have broken DNA, you naturally go into cell death. Well, if you are alkaline internally, and acidic externally (like with cancer) you don’t.   The extra changes also encourage cells to bypass their G2-M transition, which is the last check point before doubling.   Without that checkpoint, cells multiple faster.

Ok, so to summarize it and make it simpler: just about everything that makes cancer succeed comes about because of this reversal of their alkaline acidic gradient.

And the reason we are writing about it is because of its implications for the care of cancer.   A diet rich in alkaline foods will thereby make it harder for cancer to get started, and to succeed. What is that diet?   Rich in vegetables.   Or, let’s get to the heart of it. Rich in alkaline substances.   That basically comes down to magnesium and potassium, and less sodium. Now, in Western society, our food supply has changed rather dramatically in the last two hundred years.   What once was a diet with potassium to sodium of 8:1 is now a diet of potassium to sodium of 1:4, roughly a 32 fold shift, with sodium now dominating. There are all sorts of research articles documenting risk reduction in mortality with shifting your potassium sodium ratio to more potassium and less sodium. More veges, less breast cancer. And it’s not the food so much as the processing that makes it bad.   100 gram of pork, for example, has 61 mg of sodium, and 340 of potassium. That’s a good ratio. Ham, however, has 921 mg of sodium and only 240 of potassium.

There have been numerous cancer programs that have talked about this in the past. The Kelly Protocol makes an art of it by juicing vegetables (that gets all the potassium and magnesium salts out of the veges). There are other ways you can alkalinize yourself. The difference between an acidic diet and an alkaline diet is only some 20 meq. That comes down to a tsp or two of sodium bicarb. Add bicarb to your diet every day, and you accomplish much of the same effect.

www.What Will Work for me.   We now have attention to this being paid by the formal world of oncology. Us regular folks ought to take heed.   Eat more vegetables. You can have animal, just not processed with extra salt. Or else you better have some bicarb. Did I mention more vegetables? Fresh, steamed. (Why steaming? – because all that green water you pour off is all the alkalizing salts.)

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Cancer cells normally have a more acidic environment on the outside of them, meaning a lower pH. T or F

That’s it in a nutshell.

  1. Normal cells live in a world of slightly alkaline external pH. T or F

Again, bingo.

  1. The American diet has switched from alkaline to acidic by our modern processing, which essentially comes down to a whole lot more salt. T or F

True

  1. Meat is naturally abundant in potassium, compared to sodium. T or F

True

  1. The difference between an acidic diet and an alkaline diet is two tsps of bicarb. T or F

True

CLA: Inflammation Breaker or Too Dangerous?

CLA: Inflammation Breaker? Fat Burner or Too Risky?

Reference: Science News, Diabetes 2007, Dairy Herd 2001, FASEB, Authority Nutrition

Published Feb 8, 2016

Mark Cook was a University of Wisconsin scientist when he got interested in CLA. Mark was probably the first and leading researcher to investigate these trace fat molecules that are already present in our food.   CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid. There are essentially two different ones, depending on where they put their two double bonds.   C9, t 11 means there is a “same side” (cis) at the 9th carbon, and a “opposite side” (trans) at the 11th carbon.   T10, c12 means the opposite side bond is at t10 and the same side double bond is at 12.   Sorry, didn’t mean to drown you in detail.

Cows naturally make these two fats in their milk. The more grass they eat, the more c9, t11 they make.   The more grain, the more t10, c12 they make.   You can adjust the proportion in animals by how much grain their get in their diet.

Now, what is interesting is that t10, c12 is a remarkable inflammation fighter.   Every cell in our body has an inflammation activator called NFκB that is normally quiescent and dormant. It has to be activated.   With activation, NFκB turns the production of COX-2 and other inflammatory agents.   That’s the common pathway for all inflammation. And CLA turns it off. Not only does it inhibit NFκB, but it also downregulates the COX2 activity.

Whether it’s anti-inflammatory effect is primary, or whether there is something else, CLA has tended to be used also as a weight loss supplement.   It has been widely reported on and summary reviews tend to agree, it does work for weight loss, for about the first 6 months. After that, its effect seems to dissipate. It appears to reduce fat mass and increase muscle mass.   Its mechanisms of action include stimulating the breakdown of fat.   Because of those effects, it appears to be quite good at helping reduce the problems of diabetes.   People with the most CLA in their fat tissue have the least amount of heart disease. Of course, that CLA is coming from grass raised animals which might also mean those folks got K2 or omega fats which also show up in the milk and meat of grass raised animals.

Can you take too much CLA? This is also interesting. The answer might well be “yes”. It appears that those who take the supplement form which is artificially made from vegetable oils and has more of the t10, c12 version, have more liver fat and tendency to having metabolic syndrome. And most confounding is data suggesting that the t10, c12 version can cause inflammation. The best study looking at side effects showed that it did help with weight loss, but caused some folks to have funny tummies.   What’s a person to do?

So, what’s a person to do? If you want to lose weight, this might help for 6 months. But I wouldn’t advise you take more than 3-4 grams a day so that you don’t get to the fatty liver stuff. And if you want to try it, make sure you get liver functions drawn before and every 6 months during taking it.

WWW. What will work for me.   Well, I know one person who has taken modest doses for 15 years and has crystal clean arteries, fantastic lipid levels and no inflammation.   I think I would rather eat a clean ketogenic diet and lose weight the old fashioned way.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. CLA is naturally made by animals that eat grass? T or F

Well, true. Goats and sheep have it too.

  1. CLA is present in trace quantities in milk. To lower inflammation, you would need to drink about 100 calories of milk a day. T or F

Not included above, but true.

  1. CLA has been found to not help with weight loss

False. It works for about 6 months and then tapers off

  1. CLA also lowers NFκB, my inflammation factory? T or F

That’s correct

  1. The OTC supplement, CLA, can safely be taken for weight loss. T or F                                              Possibly false. When we take it for weight loss, we get a supplement made from vegetable oils and the balance is different. That difference seems to play out with more fatty liver and tummy symptoms. May be scary.

Birth Method, Gut Bacteria and Health Outcomes

Birth Method and Health Outcomes via the Gut

Reference: JAMA Pediatrics Jan 2016

When a baby is born naturally, it usually is facing downwards. That makes it easiest to flex and turn its head through the vaginal canal. Now, recalling the 20 or so babies I’ve delivered in my career, I do recall that most of them squeeze out a bit of stool from mom’s rectum just before delivery. Pretty quickly, the babies face then emerges and the baby takes a deep breath and yells. We wipe the blood and stool and messy vaginal juices off their face and hand them over to mom.

What just happened? Mom just did one of her more important actions. She passed on her bacterial biome to the baby to populate its intestinal tract. The vaginal bacterial are heavily weighted to lactobacillus that digest milk just fine. And the 30,000 different species in mom’s intestinal biome get gifted to baby. They all get a healthy start. Now that we know that our colonic biome is critically linked to many health outcomes. This is a good thing. Guess what happens when you get delivered via a sterile C-section. You got it! Your gut gets a whole different start. Then, guess what good things breast feeding does for your gut biome! You got it. Dramatically better diversity and balance of bacteria when vaginally delivered versus c-section delivered.

That’s what Dr. And her team discovered following 102 deliveries of which. 70 were natural vaginal deliveries and 32 Were c- sections. Then 70 women exclusively breastfed,   26 Women breast fed and supplemented with some formula and 6 exclusively bottle fed. At 6 weeks the babies had their colonic biome evaluated.

And this is where it gets really interesting. Being delivered vaginally results in 6 bacterial families having statistically different abundance. This constituted a greater change in abundance and distribution of bacterial families than breast feeding versus formula feeding. In that, there was difference enough.   Pure breastfeeding showed a different population of bacteria in the babies colonic biome than formula feeding. Interestingly enough, adding some formula in made if as though you were only formula feeding, losing the benefit of breast feeding.

Cesarean delivery has been associated with an increased risk for obesity, asthma, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. That is at least 3 autoimmune illnesses that have a connection to type of birth. Don’t you find that intriguing? It suggests that the cross talk between the bacteria in your colon and your immune system is far more complex, and more beneficial than we have understood to date. Our colon is emphatically not just an organ dedicated to conserving water, but rather a complicated, mutually beneficial arrangement with implications we have yet to fully understand.

The implication is pretty clear to me. If you are forced by circumstance to have a C-section for your baby’s delivery, you might be well served to make sure your baby gets a taste of your vaginal bacteria, and some of your stool. And then, breastfed, exclusively.   This study is in progress, and its results should be coming soon. How about a cotton swab?   We already know that kids who grow up on farms with early exposure to animal dander and poop have fewer allergies. Perhaps it’s all by the same route. More diversity.

www.What Will Work for me.   I’m getting a lot more casual about the dirt in my environment. I’m trying to still wash my hands and my fruit/vegetables, just to get off all the pesticides and viruses I picked up off the door nob. But the mud from my yard….may be just what I need. What I want to learn is how to interpret the variety of bacteria when I test it, and I haven’t found a good source to help me sort that out. That is still a work in progress.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. You get beneficial bacteria from your mother’s stool at the moment of birth. T or F

True, get over it.

  1. Vaginal delivery results in a very different bacterial biome from c-section delivery. T or F

True

  1. C-section babies get their bacteria from the nurses in the delivery suite, their husbands, the doctor and the nurses assistant, instead of from mom. T or F

True

  1. Breast feeding exclusively appears to provide added benefit for colonic diversity and abundance, a benefit lost with modest formula supplementation.   T or F

Again True

  1. In the future, it may be standard of care to swab a mother’s vagina and rectum to pass on bacteria to a baby at birth, if the baby was born by c-section.

May be. Makes perfect sense. And time is of the essence.