Monthly Archives: December 2016

Taurine: Your most abundant and important amino acid

Taurine: Your Most Abundant and Maybe Important Amino Acid

References: JPEN 2016, DisMarkers 2016, Life Extension , J Neuroscience 2016, Amino Acids, Westin Price Slides,

Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, like different beads on a necklace. It is highest in your brain and your heart, but is everywhere else as well. It contains a sulfur atom, which is the key to its powerful and beneficial effects. All mammals have this balance, which is what leads animal products to being slightly “acidic” when they are digested and broken down: all the sulfur is turned into acid. When it’s in is though, it’s a huge benefit.

How does that benefit play out? Well, the hear it from the makers of sports energy drinks, who add a bit of taurine to their mix, it helps your brain be sharper. That it does, but the sugar and excess caffeine, from which there have been documented deaths by cardiac arrhythmia, perhaps not helpful enough.

The benefits of taurine are becoming increasingly manifest. The foundation of those benefits is likely the delicate dance with glutamate, another amino acid, and its sulfur atom. Glutamate is an excitatory signal in many cells. Too much glutamate and you have unbridled excitation. How this plays out is in atrial fibrillation where studies show that the balance of glutamate to taurine is out of whack. As we age, our glutamate rises and our taurine falls. By age 80, 15% of us are in atrial fibrillation (where the upper chambers are fluttering spastically and you lose 15-20% of your pumping ability).

The same process of glutamate toxicity happens in your brain. And again, taurine may ride to the rescue. It reduces the imbalance that occurs with aging, and leads to greater loss of hippocampus cells (memory) and increasing accumulation of beta amyloid. Other benefits in the brain include: protecting brain cells against environmental toxins including lead and organic pesticides, preventing mitochondrial dysfunction within brain cells, protecting brain cells against glutamate excitotoxicity, enhancing the inhibitory systems driven by the “relaxing” neurotransmitter GABA, which directly opposes excitotoxic effects, reducing brain inflammatory processes active in production of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, stimulating proliferation and new neuron formation to sustain learning and memory, protecting brain cells against destruction following a stroke, softening the damage caused by beta amyloid protein, a major contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease. Isn’t that a nice list!

The sulfur atom picks up extra electrons from reactive oxygen species. That makes taurine a pretty good detoxing drug too. More taurine and you have an easier time of making glutathione, getting rid of bile acids…..

I could go on. But you get the gist. You should know about taurine. If you have heart failure or concerns about brain dysfunction, you might consider adding it as a supplement. Just not in the form of high sugar energy drinks.

WWW.What will work for me. I’ve just really learned about taurine and I want to find more. I first focused on it 5 years ago when I read an article about micronutrient in heart failure. When I have a dear friend get hospitalized with atrial fibrillation and heart failure, I took a second look. I’m buying some for her today.

 

Pop Quiz

‪1. Taurine is the name of a constellation in the southern sky. T or F

‪False, You were in LaLaland and not reading the article. It’s your bodies most abundant amino acid and maybe its most beneficial

‪2. Taurine plays a role of balancing too much glutamate. T or F

Exactly right. This is certainly true in the brain and the heart.

‪3. Taurine helps balance the effects of heavy metals. T or F

True. Suggesting that if you are worried about heavy metals, you might benefit from a supplement of extra. Give it try.

‪4. Taurine may also play a role in helping Alzheimer’s. T or F

Yup, it’s been shown to reduce beta amyloid and help memory in animal models.

‪5. Taurine’s benefit may come for it’s containing a sulfur atom. T or F

‪It may be that simple. Yes.

Leptin, Weight Loss and Carb Nite Out

Leptin and Carb Nite Out

References: The Carb Nite Solution by John Kiefer<- 
, American Jr Physiol Endo Acta,

Ever plateaued on weight loss? You and everyone else. We now know that you don’t lose weight unless you quit carbs and turn off insulin. So far so good. But somewhere along the line, you plateau and stop losing weight. You are frustrated and upset. The method seemed to work for a while and then didn’t.

What’s cooking? The problem is that we are much more complicated than just insulin. In response to every environmental stress you get all sorts of other hormones. Prolonged dieting with starvation is a real stressor. That causes you to release insulin AND cortisol. That grows new fat cells. Then you regain weight above and beyond when you get back to normal eating. And leptin, your hormone that signals sufficient calories, drops to very low very quickly. When leptin is low, it means either that you are at normal weight, or that you are starving and need to conserve calories. When it’s high, you are signaling that your fat cells have enough food and you can stop eating, or you are resistant and have a lousy appetite control. Which is which? We have been concerned those high leptin signals indicating leptin resistance, and abnormal weight leading to confused weight loss signals.

But that’s only on one layer of complexity. Which is it?

John Kiefer has stumbled into the next layer with this book. In his own attempts to lose weight while not losing muscle, he applied his physics research approach to weight loss and found ideas deep in the basic science literature about how to “hack” leptin. He devised his “Carb Nite” method from that and wrote the book. And when a client of mine came in having plateaued and “broken through” and proceeded to lose another 15 pounds, I read the book too.

John Kiefer’s method is actually ingeniously simple. You have to start with very low carbs – have to. That’s baseline. Maximum of 30 grams a day. That’s what we have been teaching for a while. Then, and catch this, you must have a carb night every 7 nights. Must. No skipping. Not more frequently than every 5th night. And for 6 hours, you get to have carbs. Lots of carbs. Two or three hits. Go for it.

What happens is a spike in insulin. All true. But then, also a spike in leptin. Here is the unique part. Your insulin comes down in 8-12 hours, but your leptin stays up for a couple of days. In the environment of weight loss, your higher leptin signals to your body that you have plenty of calories, so keep burning. In animals there is even evidence that you kill off baby fat cells and don’t grow new ones. And the effect lasts a full four days, shadowing the 8-12 hour effect of insulin.

Did you get that? Ok, a repeat. Cut your carbs to less than 30 a day. Go for 10 days to get started, then have a carb night. Not just a donut, two or three good hits of carbohydrates. Have some mashed potatoes, some ice cream, how about pancakes…. I’m serious. Then back to 30 grams max. Repeat once a week once you are started.

WWW. What will work for me. I’m completely on board with this idea, having seen dozens if not more folks who have plateaued and then gotten discouraged. If you are one of those who has gotten stuck, give it a try. Buy the book. Let us know. I believe it and think this is a meaningful advance. I would love to hear anyone’s contrary opinion, and any success stories.

 

Pop Quiz

‪1. To lose weight, I have to turn off insulin. T or F

True but it only works for a while. Once leptin falls to low levels, your body goes into conservation mode.

‪2. So the key to losing weight is to starve myself with just 1200 calories. T or F

False, false, false. You will fail because you induce huge stress response, and the resultant cortisol peak will make your grow more fat cells than ever, resulting in new weight gain over and above.

‪3. What’s the key physiological change that occurs with Carb Nite?

You reignite leptin to get back to its originally intended signal, that you have sufficient calories and your fat cells can start losing again. That’s leptin’s original role. When you are overweight, it gets too high and for reasons not completely understood, you become leptin resistant and lose that signal.

‪4. The effect of leptin lasts 12 hours and insulin from carb night lasts 48 hours. T or F False?

Backwards and wrong numbers. The insulin lasts 8-12 hours but the resurgent leptin will be ignited for at least 4 days. Think of it as 1 step back but 4 steps forward. But forward it is.

‪5. You have to have at least a candy bar on carb nite. T or F

False. That wouldn’t be enough. Probably at least two good insulin peaks a couple of hours apart. (Isn’t that fun? Icecream and then more later!)

Soccer Headers Cause Memory Loss

Headers in Soccer Cause Instant Damage to Memory

Reference: eBiomedicine Oct 2016, BBC News, Washington Post,

You have certainly heard of all the controversy about concussion in the NFL. And you likely have heard that American youth soccer’s governing bodies have banned headers for anyone under 11, both in practice and in play. The question remains, are headers a problem for those older than eleven? That’s what this study decided to look at.

The design was pretty simple. Young adults, ages 19-25, 14 men and 5 women, were told to perform 20 headers over 10 minutes from an automatic soccer “gun” that was designed to send the ball at a precise speed, similar to a corner kick. Then they were checked for memory ability; before, immediately after and for 24 hours following. All had measurable memory loss. Some of the subjects had error rates increase by as much as 64%. It seemed to all clear after 24 hours. A recent review of the issue from March of this year suggests this is a problem. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and the header is a critical part of the current game.

So, I thought I would share with your my research on concussions and prevention. As some of you may know, I have applied for and been granted 5 different patents on the use of “air cells” in helmets to reduce concussive injury. I have spent the last two years making a testing device and developing a series of experiments to show the effectiveness of air cells. There are some serious barriers to making it work, which is why I’ve taken two years at this project, to date. But we finally have air cells that are tough enough to not pop when I jump and down on them (210 pounds). My testing device can go up to 150 gs in force, at which point they do pop. So, I can deliver great force. And what I find is that the concussive force occurs in the first blink of an eye, .001 seconds. It’s the same principle with your phone. When you drop it on concrete, the glass shatters from a force wave in the first .0001 seconds. If you put a dumb piece of rubber around your phone, it just bounces.

When you put the air cells in my testing device, we find that we fall below the “threshold” to even get the data recorder to start. The decrease in G forces is on the order of 80 to 90%. I need to have a threshold of G forces to set off the accelerometer, and when it drops below 3 gs, the machine fires off when you start it from the acceleration, instead of waiting for the deceleration. Nice problem, huh?

I think there is air under these wings. This idea has got credibility. We can reduce concussive force in sports. It is going to take the design and manufacture of new new protective equipment to do it.

WWW. What will work for me. I’m just starting the process of looking for business development help. License it? Make it? Prototype it? I think all sports helmets needs to change. Tough resilient air cells will do it. There are other methods. I’m working on a baseball cap right now, with a layer of air cells in it. I whacked my head today in the garage as I was getting put the snow thrower from the crawl space. If I had had my protective, air cell cap on, I wouldn’t have dinged my brain. Now, I just have to remember how to mail out this email.

Pop Quiz:

‪1. Headers in soccer cause brain damage? T or F

That would be a yes.

‪2. Modest head impacts can also cause change in brain function. T or F

That’s what this study shows here.

‪3. The damage appears to occur in the first .001 second when deceleration reaches its peak. T or F

That is the same effect as you dropping your smart phone on the concrete. If you have a rubber cover, it doesn’t shatter. If you don’t, well, you know that story.

‪4. Air cells save lives in what other event where deceleration causes dangerous damage? (Hint: 35 mph will kill you.)

We call them air bags in cars, and they have revolutionized auto safety, if they don’t kill you with shrapnel

‪5. Moderate impacts appear to clear damage within 24 hours? T or F

That is now considered true. What we do know is that repeat concussions within the first week are much more dangerous, so the damage may not be completely cleared in 24. It may take at least a week for the whole healing process to be completed. And we are now discovering and linking repeated head injuries with later-in-life neurological disease. So many little injuries may not be safe.