Author Archives: Dr John Whitcomb

About Dr John Whitcomb

Dr John Whitcomb is one of Milwaukee's premier functional medicine and Anti-Aging doctors. He is in private practice in Brookfield. He is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine and has a Masters Degree in Nutrition and Metabolic Medicine. He is also now developing Wellness University, an innovative course to teach the fundamentals of nutrition and self care to individuals and companies.

Artificial Sweeteners and the Risk of Dementia

Artificial Sweeteners and the Risk of Dementia

References: StrokeObesityWashington Post,

Whoa, Nellie! Now artificial sweeteners are bad! Help, help, help. We’ve been telling everyone not to eat sugar, and now you turn around and point at sweeteners. What’s the deal? Better, what’s the evidence?
Ok, an observational study from the long-term, Framingham heart study prospectively followed 4,272 older adults for 10 years with follow-up for risk of stroke and dementia. They found 97 strokes and 81 cases of dementia over that time period and compared those outcomes to the frequency of sugar and artificial sweetener use. Compared to controls within those groups, after statistically accounting for the proper variables, they found a 2.97 times increased risk of stroke and 2.87 for increased risk of dementia by drinking one diet soda a day. One measly, little diet soda. Sugar didn’t show any negative effect.
Well, out come the critics in full force (from the soda industry, of course). They claim it was a lousy observational studies without any proof of causation. (True) They attacked because it wasn’t large enough. They griped because the sugar use wasn’t found to be dangerous when every other study shows it has. And the accompanying editorial in the journal pointed out that the risks go away when incident diabetes and vascular risk factors were taken into account.

Ok, ok, so the evidence isn’t perfect. But it is there. Is there a plausible mechanism we can construe that carries a tiny bit of credibility?
Well yes, there is. Here it is. First and foremost, drinking diet soda has been shown to lead to weight gain, not weight loss. The means by which that happens is thought to be by confusing your brain’s appetite sensor into thinking calories are coming because you taste sweet, and then you secrete some insulin, which lowers your sugar, and 4 hours later, you eat more. Presto, fatso.

It may be along this line that we will find an answer. The interplay of human hormones is so complex, it is extremely hard to parse out a single hormone in isolation. The breadth of knowledge is advancing in that direction. Here is one plausible bench research explanation: there is pretty good evidence that being fat makes you insulin resistant, and higher insulin with higher glucose leads to your tummy fat making more amyloid precursor protein (APP). And it’s APP that breaks off in your brain to make agglomerations of beta-amyloid plaque. Ok, so you drink diet soda, make a little extra insulin, get fatter and gain weight, make more beta-amyloid and there you have it. Diet soda makes for more dementia.
WWW.What will work for me. Well, well. Not the strongest of evidence but the gun is smoking never the less. I just drove for 4 hours yesterday and got a big gulp of 32 oz of diet Pepsi at a QuickTrip because I was sleepy. Bummer. I can feel the beta-amyloid crawling up my neurons. I’m weaning myself off sweeteners bit by bit. Sounds like it’s time to increase that effort. Is Stevia just as bad? Haven’t got a clue.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. If you believe this study, you triple your risk of dementia by drinking artificial sweeteners. T or F                                                           Answer: True unless you nit-pick over 2.87 fold vs 3.0
  2. Women who drink diet sodas stay thin. T or F                         Answer: False, they gain weight.
  3. Belly fat makes amyloid precursor protein, which is the protein that then calves beta-amyloid in your brain, the cardinal sign of Alzheimer’s. T or F                      Answer: Bingo
  4. Is sugar safe to put in your drinks?                                            Answer: No, not at all. In fact, to me, that was the weakest sign of this paper because, on every other front, more sugar is worse for you in ever so many ways. This study sort of absolved it.
  5. Now that you know belly fat makes APP, want to lose weight?                    Answer: oh my goodness, yes.

 

Blood Glucose and Cognitive Decline

Blood Glucose and Cognitive Decline

Reference: Crane, NEJMLancet NeurologyELSA StudyDiabetes Care,

Your HgbA1c is your most important blood test. Get to know it well. It is a simple concept. When blood sugar gets higher, more of it sticks to different proteins. Glucose is a very reactive molecule, ready to stick to anything. You know that from spilling a Coke on your car seat and having sticky goo for weeks thereafter. When you eat 4 scoops of ice cream your blood sugar shoots up for 6-8 hours. In that time it sticks to everything in sight, including your hemoglobin molecules in your red cells. That makes it a nice surrogate marker for glucose also sticking to the proteins in your blood vessels, your kidneys, your brain, your joints and on and on. You can sample your blood and there it is, a nice marker. Now, red cells live about 100 days more or less, so your A1c becomes the average of your glucose over the last 100 days. As fat cells get bigger, they require a higher insulin level to make them react to rising glucose, so A1c becomes a marker of how overweight your body thinks you are. Not your spouse, or your friends, your own internal body signal.

We define adult-onset diabetes as a blood sugar of 126 after an overnight fast. That leads to an A1c of about 6.4. But is that accurate? Is blood sugar healthy at 126? The answer is absolutely not. The Whitehall Study from England shows decreasing cardiac mortality down to a blood sugar of 85 before leveling off. Hmmm. Heart disease is one thing, but which would you rather die from, heart disease or dementia? I’m going for neither. I want old age to just spirit me away.
That’s what this week’s studies relate to. What is the risk of dementia from elevated blood sugar? Turns out, a lot. In fact, much lower than 126 or A1c of 6.4.
Crane’s study in the New England Journal is the hallmark study. The Adult Changes in Thought Study took 2067 elderly adults (average age 76) who yielded 524 folks with dementia. The simplest conclusion of the study was that a blood sugar of 100 compared to 115 raised risk of dementia by 18%. Going the other way, dropping blood glucose from 100 to 95 lowered risk 14%. One could extrapolate and say that dropping from blood glucose of 115 to 95 lowers dementia risk 32%.

There are now more studies following this seminal study that say the same thing. Lancet Neurology confirmed the danger in the ELSA Study.
There are some of us who spike our blood sugars quite high when we sneak that ice cream and that is even riskier. The science of that isn’t completely known but it can be measured with a nifty new test called 1,5-AG ratio that adds a layer of understanding to the risk. This may or may not play out. Something to watch. I want to know mine.
We don’t mean to belabor this point. The message is clear. The size of your fat cells matter. If you are overweight, your blood sugar will likely be higher, and your risk of dementia will be higher. Losing weight and lowering your A1c matters. What’s the target? A1c of 5.5 should be your minimum. 5.1 is perfection.
WWW. What will work for me? Well, with a mother with dementia and a father that had diabetes, my genes are in the crosshairs. I was running an A1c of 5.2 for a couple of years there then suddenly I popped up to 5.9 last year. (Nothing like a wedding in the family to gain a little weight and a broken food to cut the exercise.) I’ve been doing the fast mimicking diet for 5 months now and I’m back down to 5.6. This perfection stuff is a pain in the proverbial…..So, I still have a ways to go. Join me. I’m doing the FMD diet last week of the month. Every month until I’m below 5.5. Each month it gets easier.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Your A1c reflects what?                                                         Answer: Your average blood glucose over the last 100 days.
  2. How can you lower it?                                                            Answer: Stop eating foods that make it go up like grains and sugar, and lose weight with the Fast Mimicking Diet.
  3. What blood sugar is an A1c of 5.1? (Google Blood Glucose A1c Table)             Answer: 5.1
  4. The current definition of diabetes is based on sound science. T or F               Answer: It was a committee decision that was made 40 years ago. Now way out of date.
  5. What’s the first step most folks need to do to lower their blood sugar?           Answer: Stop drinking it. The calories you drink are the calories your store. Sugared soda is the worst. Orange juice and energy drinks, ditto.

 

Chelation Therapy for Coronary Artery Disease – the TACT Study

Chelation Therapy for Coronary Artery Disease – the TACT Study

References: NIHJAMAAHA, EHP,

Imagine my surprise when a doctor calls me and asks me to do chelation on himself for coronary artery disease. He referenced the TACT study which I had not read. Now I have and here are the results. I’ll try and put it into the context of risks and what is going on.
Chelos is Greek for claw. Chelation is making a chemical claw around a substance that is otherwise inert, dangerous or insoluble. Lead meets the inert quality. Iron meets the dangerous criteria. Chelation has been used medically to reduce both of those substances when they are toxic. But there is conflicting evidence about iron levels and risk of coronary artery disease and recent trends of studies appear to be on the side of it NOT being a problem. This flies in the face of initial enthusiasm about iron reduction, like that generated by the Finish study showing an 88% reduction in risk by frequent blood donation. This study from Helsinki followed 2,862 males aged 42-60 for 9 years. Heart attack rates for blood donors was only 0.7%, compared to 12.5% for non-donors. It’s hard to get that sort of effect unless something real is going on. Now, they didn’t account for the frequency of saunas, which many Finns do (building codes in Finland require every new apartment and home to have a sauna built in it). One study from Finland showed that frequent saunas are as beneficial as exercise for reducing heart risk.
What does chelation do? It sucks bad things out of your body by enveloping the target chemical, making it water-soluble by that envelopment, and then excreting it. It’s not just iron that gets enveloped. It’s whatever happens to be around. Lead is one of those enemies. The evidence of lead and hypertension is very strong. The subsequent association with coronary artery disease isn’t quite as robust, but is also strong. Both lead and iron get chelated when exposed to the chelating chemical, typically EDTA. But so is cadmium, mercury, thallium, uranium and on and on. All of these metals are dangerous and to date, not having been studied much. We just don’t know data on multiple, combinations, and likely never will. Research questions tend to focus on one variable at a time.
How do you do chelation? Properly done, you take mineral supplements before and in-between treatments (a fortified vitamin pill). EDTA is given by IV over about 3 hours once a week. And get a reverse osmosis filter at home to keep the dangerous metals out of your water.
What does the TACT study show? Well, in diabetic men, who represent about 1/3 of the 1,708 men in the TACT study, EDTA chelation reduced the risk of subsequent heart attack by 52%, and fatal heart attack by 41%. Taking high dose vitamins and minerals along with the EDTA to rebuild up “good minerals” resulted in the greatest benefit. My read of heart disease risk is that abnormal blood sugar is anything over 86, which differs dramatically from medicine’s range of blood sugar being ok up till 124. But benefit did not accrue to men in the traditional range of diabetes.

WWW.What will work for me. What would I do if I had a heart attack? It is pretty reasonable to suggest that spending 9 months of weekly EDTA visits is worth it. Heart attacks kill. In fact, 50% of us are done in by them.  For now, I’m working on reducing my heart attack risk by getting my blood sugar lower so I turn off the engine that drives heart disease.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Chelation does what to water-insoluble metals?                                Answer: encases them in a water-soluble “claw” and allows them to dissolve into blood, and be excreted in the urine.
  2. How much can chelation reduce the risk of a heart attack?             Answer: If you are diabetic, your chance of recurrent heart attack can be cut in half.
  3. Is it worth it?                                                                                             Answer: Let’s see. A simple heart attack with 5 days in the hospital and 6 months of rehab will likely run you around $ 75,000 with a 13% chance of death. Your answer.
  4. How do you do chelation?                                                                     Answer: It takes in IV treatment of about 3-4 hours once a week for about 9-12 months.
  5. Is the science robust for reduction of iron and reduction of heart attack risk? Answer: It appears to go back and forth. In younger years, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in America. As we get older and keep absorbing iron, it flips.  The conflicting results may be because of that.

 

What’s the Big Deal with Homocysteine?

What’s the Big Deal about Homocysteine?

Reference: Amer Jr Clin NutritionNutrition JournalLIfe Extension,

We’ve known about the risks of homocysteine since the late 60’s when a Harvard researcher by the name of McCulley brought it to the world’s attention with his research. At that time there was a brutal PR war going on about lipids and cholesterol as being the cause of heart disease, which the pharmaceutical industry took up with enthusiasm (because there was so much money to be made). McCulley was essentially booed off the stage with his ideas and homocysteine was swept under the rug, despite continuing research showing that it had an association with headaches, heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, and dementia. Ok, which of those don’t you have? This is the perfect portfolio of what we are getting sick from in this 21st century, and homocysteine is sitting right in the middle of it.
What does homocysteine do? Well, it is really just a shuttle bus moving methyl groups around inside your cell. It backs up when you don’t have enough. That simple. But what do you need methyl groups for? Ah, there’s the rub. (Poor Hamlet, thinking of suicide) Methyl groups are needed to label DNA so that you know which DNA to turn on and off. Having sufficient Methyl-FOLATE, one of the key sources of methyl groups is so powerful that women trying to get pregnant who take METHYL-FOLATE starting one year prior to conception will have as much as a 70% reduction in premature delivery. Wow! Throw in B12 (the other source of methyl groups in nature) with the methyl folate and spina bifida drops 5 fold during pregnancy. I could go for pages describing these effects in the literature, but you get the gist. You need methyl groups to tag and label DNA so that you can turn on the right genes at the right time. Add B6 and methyl glycine (a reservoir chemical to give methyl groups to folate and B12) and you will have pristine, perfect homocysteine levels.
The other thing methyl groups do is to be the first step in making “gunk” water soluble so you can excrete it through your kidneys. Lots of neurotransmitters are “methylated” on their way to excretion, as are all our hormones. Without sufficient methyl groups, we back them up and make more dangerous models.
Where do you get methyl-folate from? The foods are essentially all peas and green vegetables (spinach, asparagus, broccoli), foods we don’t eat anymore. If you eat lots of greens and black-eyed peas (yummy southern soul food cooking) you get lots of good folate.
The real problem is that we don’t measure homocysteine routinely. In fact, many health networks forbid measuring it because it’s not on their list of approved lab tests. Trust me. I know. I’ve gone to battle with one large local health care system only to be told by a nurse reviewer that it doesn’t meet their criteria.
And the irony is that it is ridiculously easy to lower to a normal range. Bredesen in his online training and his book, The End of Alzheimer’s, wants your homocysteine to be 7 or below. You lower it by taking B vitamins.
And that’s what this week’s studies show. B vitamins help slow cognitive decline in aging men. You can correlate that with high homocysteine. The average man in America has a level of 12 but I’ve seen as high as 42 now. For every 1 point above 7, you get a 16% increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Dropping your homocysteine from 12 to 7 halves your risk. Isn’t that just peachy! So simple, so easy, so elegant.
How did we get in this pickle? We evolved eating lots of green leafy vegetables in Africa. We lived to 35. It didn’t harm us then. Bruce Aime’s Triage Theory points out that until a nutrient deficiency makes a biological imperative for evolutionary pressure, it won’t cause trouble. We can skate along the edge of deficiency and not be affected until we fall over that cliff.

WWW.What will work for me. Well, the “cliff” appears to be about age 50 when we seem to get into trouble with sufficient B vitamins. I see very few folks with normal homocysteine. I had a level of 12 when I started and on daily B vitamins, I get down to about 9. I’ve just started with more methyl-folate and I’m waiting to test myself again. I’m bracing for paying the lab fee myself as I know my insurance may not cover it.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. What does homocysteine do?                                        Answer: It’s a passive amino acid shuttle that carries a methyl group off to attach to other chemicals. It’s simply a marker of sufficient methyl groups for everything else downstream.
  2. Soul food is inherently unhealthy? T or F                    Answer: Timeout. Probably the best way to get methyl folate through food. At least if you are eating greens and black-eyed peas.
  3. What should women wishing to become pregnant do in regard to methyl folate?                        Answer: Take it continuously for at least one year prior to pregnancy initiation in order to reduce their risk of premature delivery as much as 70%
  4. Why doesn’t lack of B vitamins hurt us more sooner? Answer: Bruce Ames triage theory explains that it does hurt us if we put on the right glasses to see it’s effect. It takes years of labeling DNA badly for the effect to show
  5. For every point increase in homocysteine over 7, my risk of dementia goes up how much? Answer: 16% You should know your homocysteine. Always.

 

What’s So Dangerous About NightShades?

What’s So Dangerous About NightShades?

Deadly nightshade! Dramatic name and well served. It is a very poisonous plant growing in your backyard (at least in mine in Milwaukee). You should know what the berries look like and rid your yard of them before your pets or children chomp on them. Even Shakespeare was well versed about deadly nightshade, as it made Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, Scene 5. The root and vines are equally poisonous, if not more so. Hence, it shouldn’t be a big surprise if other members of the nightshade family are problematic for humans. Well, they are. If you put potato, tomato or eggplant leaves in your salad, you can then arrange for a timely visit to an ER where you will be treated for all sorts of hallucinations if not more ominous symptoms. No kidding. The alkaloids of nightshades kicked off the field of chemistry and anesthesiology, coming out of the traditional healers otherwise known as witches. That’s why your mother told you never to eat any potato that was green. Don’t eat the shoot either. In fact, cut out the eyes of the potato. Whew, pretty dramatic stuff, this nightshade family!
Is the whole nightshade family so awful? Can we not eat tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, chilis? Please, please make an exception for chilis.
Is there any credible science about the dangers of nightshades? It’s not just the alkaloids that are problematic. They contain unique lectins that set off the immune system and your response to it. What are lectins? They are the proteins the mimic your own proteins in a fashion to poison you and keep you away from eating plants. All animals have evolved in ecosystems in which they became tolerant to the local lectins and indeed consumed with impunity. Humans evolved in Africa and came out of Africa just 90,000 years ago. The nightshades are all New World plants. We’ve hardly had evolutionary time to adapt to their toxins.

How important is it for you to be careful about eating them? That’s the rub. Here we enter into the world of functional medicine and away from the world of evidence-based research. We have many, many practitioners who will tell you they have seen amazing things happen when their clients avoid nightshades. Particularly in the field of autoimmune disease, there is lots of anecdotal evidence that the field of nightshade chemistry is one filled with danger. Then why haven’t we seen objective science?
Answer. We haven’t gotten there yet. There are thousands of different lectins and the day has not yet come that modern medicine would endorse research into that field. It’s still too arcane and appears to work only in small subsets of folks. For example, autoimmune diseases. There appears to be some credible evidence from anecdotal reports that anyone with any sort of autoimmune illness should make their best effort to be off nightshades.

We see that same effect with a more prominent lectin source, wheat. By adding 14 plus 14 new chromosomes from two distinct separate grasses to wheat, we tripled the chromosomes and lectins in wheat resulting in many folks being wheat intolerant. Modern medicine looks at the specific immune disease called celiac disease, present in only 1 of 138 people, and dismisses it outright. You don’t have to look far to find someone who feels much better when they avoid wheat.
What’s a conscientious health seeking person to do about nightshades? Oh heck, have a tomato. Enjoy some eggplant. As long as you don’t have any autoimmune disease. But if you come to me with osteoporosis, or arthritis or coronary artery disease…..don’t say you weren’t warned. Those disease get better when you avoid them. And who doesn’t have them?
www.What will work for me. I’m off potatoes, soy and wheat. But I sure like tomatoes, eggplant and chilis. I weed my fence line of deadly nightshade. I don’t think I have any autoimmune illness. Yet. I’m waiting for more research. It’s pretty thin right now. But I’ve been frankly stunned in my functional medicine practice by the people with autoimmune diseases who have gotten better by avoiding them. Some in just a month. I’ve got a few dedicated folks trying out a lectin free diet with severe coronary artery disease. I’m hopeful.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Nightshade plants contain some pretty serious poisons? T or F                  Answer: Even Juliet will tell you yes.
  2. You can safely eat a green potato. T or F                                                         Answer: Please, please, please don’t try.
  3. There is some pretty good proof that lectins are harmful? T or F               Answer: all depends on how you define proof. If you are waiting for a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, you don’t have any proof. If you talk to your neighbor who avoids wheat, just try telling them there is no proof. You will lose a friend and credibility.
  4. Humans are tolerant to what plant-based foods?                                          Answer: Quite a few. Many nuts (not including cashews and peanuts), almost all leafy greens, , olives, avacados……ready Gundry’s book: The Plant Paradox
  5. I free great when I eat a huge green salad with green peppers and tomatoes. Is that so bad? I like the lycopine in the tomatoes for my health.                                         Answer: Come back when you have your first bone density showing osteoporosis. We’ll talk. But until then, I’ll hide behind the concept of conjecture.

 

The One Supplement That Time Magazine Says You Should Take

The One Supplement Time Magazine Says you Should Take

References: Time MagazineNatureOzone TherapyWikipediaScienceScience DailyElysium Health,

If you make the cover of Time Magazine, you must have caught someone’s eye. To see Time Magazine grapple with the intricacies of NAD and NADH surprised me, so I had to follow up. Let’s see if I can get you to understand this.
NAD is a critical cofactor in many functions in your body, most particularly the production of energy. You can get it from the Vitamin called NIACIN, that you have heard about, or you can make it internally by combining tryptophan and aspartic acid (for you chemistry geeks), but you gotta have it. And as with everything else, as we get older, we make much, much less of it.

In one experiment in aging mice published last year in showed that after treatment two-year-old mice looked as healthy as 2 months old mice. In mouse terms, that’s an 80-year-old human looking as good as a 10-year-old. Pretty dramatic.
Call all this be extended to humans? Well, yes. That’s what this article was about. A human experiment taking NAD and another cofactor called pterostilbene (commonly known as blueberries) resulted in sustained elevation of the NAD/NADH ratio. It’s that ratio that falls apart as we age, leading to fatigue, lack of initiative, brain fog etc. Old age in a nutshell. Placebo folks didn’t get any better. Single dose showed improvement. Double dose showed better improvement.

Now, are there other sources of changing that improvement? You bet. This is where it gets really kinky. Almost all medical conditions can be simplified down to the inability to mount enough of an energetic response to fix the problem, so the disease-causing state continues. If more energy could be generated, our bodies had the tools to fix themselves. Hence, as we age we make less energy and get more nasty diseases. (This is the theory espoused by the ozone crowd.) So guess what happens when you give ozone given to you IV? (Can’t have it in your lungs as pulmonary ozone is a deadly toxin on your delicate lungs.) But you can have it in blood and then given back to you. Well, the same thing as above. You change the balance of NAD/NADH dramatically in the direction of making more energy, restoring yourself to a much more youthful state. Ozone and its effect on the NAD/NADH ratio has been talked about for decades now. It’s nice to see Time Magazine catching up. But ozone has a real, measurable, energy enhancing effect when given by IV.
www.What Will Work for me. Well, I can take Niacin and eat blueberries all by myself. Or I can take a pill that made Time Magazine from Elysium Health called Basis. (It has NAD+ and pterostilbene in it.) I suspect there will be a medical test coming soon that can measure your NAD/NADH ratio. In a research lab, you want it to be 700/1. If you are over 50, it’s likely 30-60% less. I suspect you may feel that you are 30-60% off your game. Look up Elysium Health and give it a try. As for me, I just finished a bowl of blueberries.

Pop Quiz

  1. The ideal ratio of NAD to NADH should be?                                        Answer: 700/1
  2. Pterostilbene is a potent antioxidant derived from?                         Answer: Blueberries
  3. As we age, our ability to make NAD from NADH does what?          Answer: Plummets
  4. If you read the Science experiment, the people getting the “BASIS” showed what in their blood?                                                                                                        Answer: More NAD
  5. Has this strategy been proven to make folks live longer?                Answer: Nope. Not yet. But it is really interesting, and it’s safe, as best we know. So, not a bad experiment if you have $ 50 bucks floating around.

 

Leptin Resistance and Inflammation

Leptin Resistance and Inflammation

References: Am Jr Coll CardVitamin HormonesCurr Immunol ReviewCell,

Leptin is the hormone that has several important functions. One is that it is secreted when your fat cells say they are full. It is a feedback loop that tells you that you have had enough to eat, so stop. Fine and dandy. But like everything else in your body, there are layers and layers of delicate complexity far exceeding the first layer of functionality. Another layer is that it essentially mediates the release of fat from fat cells, making it the guardian of your energy stores. When all is well and working properly, your leptin level falls when you don’t have food and your fat cells open up and share their calories. Women have more leptin than men. As a general rule, gaining weight results in a higher leptin level which should result in your feeling full and not eating. Something strange happens, however, when you get inflamed.
The fly in the ointment here is that there is an intersection between metabolism and inflammation. The leptin receptor in your hypothalamus appears to be a critical link. It turns the Proopiomelanocortin system and has you produce melanocortin. MSH. MSH is a potent down-regulator of appetite. With a nice high MSH, you don’t feel like eating. Low MSH, you don’t have a feedback loop. And just what happens with inflammation? Leptin plays a role in that it has a critical effect on innate and adaptive immune response. It promotes the secretion of cytokines like IL-6 and Tumor Necrosis Factor, and there you have it. It sets up the link between metabolism and inflammation. What you see is a dramatic dysregulation of inflammation in folks who become overweight, and thereby establishing the first step in increasing risk for Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease and just about everything else that ails us. The “Common Soil Hypothesis” is the concept that metabolism and inflammation came from the same source in evolution, way, way back. Here again, we see that nexus and it makes for problems.

What you see happen is as follows. Folks with inflammation, like low-grade mold exposure, have low MSH and high cytokines that damage the leptin receptor in the hypothalamus. Leptin drifts higher in response, trying to bring about control of calorie balance. The person gains weight. Leptin goes higher, but the receptor is damaged and the higher leptin then mediates more inflammation. Around and around you go. If you feel overweight and have chronic pain or chronic fatigue, you likely fit this model. Forget trying to lose weight until you lower your leptin.

How can you lower your leptin most effectively? I suspect the fast mimicking diet will do so, but that is not yet proven. The one good study that shows regeneration of the pancreas beta cell used mice with a genetic defect in their leptin receptor, so they couldn’t be used to proven leptin repair. Right now we can use pioglitizone (ACTOS) which is an old fashioned diabetes drug that has lots of side effects when used for too long, but is dandy at lowering leptin and MMP-9, two mold effects.

Can we reduce leptin with our own lifestyle? Well, quite a lot. If you focus on several key items, you can guide your leptin lower. Keep your daily sleep cycle to a regular pattern. That plays into your POMC system being played every day at the same time. Avoid sugar. Increase fat in your diet. Cut down on your evening meal and increase your daytime eating, making for at least 12 hours of fasting each night. Exercise. Sleep at least 8 hours, starting with at least 3 hours of no food before bed. Consider training yourself to enjoy a cold shower, particularly if you get a nice hot sauna just before. (The Finns had it right.)

WWW.What will work for me. I’m fascinated with leptin and mold illness. I keep seeing women in particular with not only high leptins but super high leptins levels. Just about every one of them has had low MSH levels, meaning some sort of mold or biotoxin exposure. Throw in stress, sugar, lack of exercise, lousy sleep and we make for a perfect storm to elevate leptin, and keep everyone overweight and inflamed.

 

Pop Quiz.

  1. Leptin helps you make MSH which suppresses your appetite. T or F                Answer: Almost right but backward. LACK of leptin results in hight MSH, and then weight loss and lack of appetite.
  2. Inflammation turns on leptin. T or F                                                                      Answer: I’m into backward today. It makes for leptin resistance, which then elevates leptin.
  3. Name a few means by which you can lower your leptin with lifestyle changes. Answer: Regular schedule, exercise, sleep, 12 hours of fasting, weight loss, less sugar….
  4. Leptin allows the release of MSH. What does MSH do?                                     Answer: It’s a potent appetite down-regulator.
  5. The cause of fibromyalgia is likely?                                                                    Answer…….. /biotoxin illness leading to damaged leptin receptors.

 

 

Exercise Flushes Out Stem Cells

Exercise Flushes Out Stem Cells

Reference: Research GateNEJM,

Exercise is wonderful for us. You. Me. All of us. At any age, its magic tonic is more than burning calories. You can measure the wonder of it with examples like the Honolulu Retired Men’s Study that shows men walking 2 miles a day have half for mortality of men walking less than a mile. What on earth is that all about? Something “magical” must be going on.

Stem cells. That’s what is going on. Here is the logic, though I have to admit, not the proof. You can read about the “Stem Cell Theory of Aging” on Wikipedia. Every tissue in your body has a certain lifespan. Different cells have different spans. There has been lots of excitement about cardiac stem cells as a possible means of rejuvenating the heart. Indeed, as best we can tell, each muscle cell in your heartlasts just a month and has to be replaced with a new stem cell that can turn into a heart cell. As we get older, we make fewer stem cells. And as we get older, all of our organs gradually decline, both in volume and function. The liver gets smaller, your muscles get smaller, your brain gets smaller. Yikes. Why don’t they keep their size? Because as we age, the number and amount of stem cells that help them rejuvenate declines. The stem cell theory of aging is just that, that our stem cells poop out over time and we make less and less of them. By age 60 you have about 10% of the circulating stem cells you had at age 18.

Just 6-8 weeks ago we created a whole series on the Fast Mimicking Diet and why it is so powerful in its effects. That’s because it turns on the stem cell engine. In the lab model of diabetes, the FMD has been shown to rejuvenate the pancreas gland with new stem cells. Three cycles of FMD with diabetes and you will have such a boost to your stem cells that your Islets in your pancreas are rejuvenated. The effect of the fast mimicking diet on stem cells appears to be several months.
That’s what appears to be the case with exercise too. Exercise flushes out stem cells from your bone marrow. Or perhaps, exercise flushes out stem cells from other sources, such as fat tissue. I’m not sure we can say more than that as the research isn’t in yet, at least in published form. It is obviously of intense interest to many and surely will be coming out soon.

What’s a person to do? Note that Longo’s formula for the Fast Mimicking Diet allows you to do it less often if you are constantly exercising. The Secret Sauce may be in the togetherness. Do both.
www.What will work for me? I just finished cycle 4 of the FMD. If cycle number one was was a 6 out of 10 in difficulty, cycle 2 was a 5, cycle 3 was a 4, and cycle 5 was the easiest yet. I walked two miles on three of the days of the cycle. I’m down 15 pounds. This coming week, I’m going to draw my blood work and see where I stand. Oh for a simple test of circulating stem cells. I want to live long enough to understand all this interesting stuff.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Exercise makes for stem cells. T or F                                     Answer. It doesn’t make them but they show up afterward. Maybe as simple as increasing blood flow just flushing them out.
  2. Fasting for 5 days also turns on stem cells. T or F              Answer: Yup
  3. Your body is carrying around enough calories to last you 5 days. T or F
    Answer: More like 30-120
  4. Organs all decline in function with aging. T or F                  Answer: Yes again
  5. I can measure circulating stem cells easily? T or F               Answer: If you can let me know. I haven’t found the test yet.

 

 

N-Acetyl Cysteine Increases Free T3 in NTIS

N-Acetyl Cysteine Increases Free T3 in NTIS

References: Critical Care,

A reference to this article caught my eye when I saw the reference to NTIS which is jargon for Non-Thyroidal Illness Syndrome (NTIS). NTIS is what happens to you when you get critically ill, like with a heart attack. Your free T3 plummets and your reverse T3 rises dramatically. Just when you need it, your body goes into a perverse “antagonistic pleiotropy” cycle. Antagonistic pleiotropy is the concept that what is good for you in one environment, isn’t good for you in another. I suspect you can make the reasoned argument that Neolithic humans, when injured or ill, were well served by “hunkering down” and getting through an illness or crisis in medical care by downregulating their metabolism. That allows calories to be shifted to immune function instead of metabolic function. That remains conjecture because we weren’t there to test it. We just see the effect in modern humans.
That’s what NTIS is. Your body “Hunkers Down” in response to a crisis. In this study, the crisis was 67 patients with heart attacks. In the ICU their Free T3 and Reverse T3 were measured, and predictably they changed dramatically, shifting from regular T3 to reverse T3. NAC reversed that and improved T3.

Reverse T3 reverses T3. It blocks the action of the free T3 on your body. (Remember, T3 is the active thyroid hormone your body actually runs on. You convert it from T4, made by your thyroid. T4 is not biologically active. It’s simple the precursor template.) You feel the effect of low T3 when you get sick. You feel exhausted and can’t get out of bed. A heart attack patient can hardly lift their head off the pillow. Folks in an ICU are sick. Really sick. Can hardly move. That is the nugget of Non-Thyroidal Illness Syndrome. You get a physiological stress and your body goes into “hunker down”, or NTIS.

In this study, N-acetyl cysteine was given to the study folks in a randomized, placebo-controlled fashion. The folks who got the NAC got better and had higher free T3. What is NAC? Very simple. It is the key building block to make glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s key anti-oxidant. At age 20 you make tons of it, naturally. At age 50, dramatically less. Older, less, older, less.

Now, let’s switch to the modern era of day-to-day 24-hour stress, media, artificial light, sugar, deadlines, jerks at work – have I named enough of your stressors? Ok, add in-laws and teenagers. You feel tired all the time. Your free T3 is just too low. Could you be low in glutathione, your natural anti-oxidant? Well, NAC is the natural building block for making more of it. It is simply two amino acids plugged together, waiting for a third to be attached and presto, you have glutathione. Your stress may not be as dramatic as a heart attack, but it’s nevertheless real. Could NAC help you? I bet it could.
WWW.What will work for me. Simple. I take NAC myself. Every day. It’s on Bredesen’s lists of suggested supplements for brain health. That’s good enough for me to pull the trigger and add it to my list. I remember back when NAC was a precious, rare ICU drug to reverse Tylenol overdoses. Worked like a charm. Then it became an ER drug. Then it became a take-home drug. Then it became an OTC supplement. You can buy it yourself. This incredibly powerful building block for you to make your own glutathione is available for you over the counter. Gives you back the vital T3 for your own energy system. Isn’t that a unique cross synergy of metabolic systems?

Pop Quiz
1. Free T3 is the hormone your body naturally runs on. T or F Answer: True
2. You make less free T3 when you are under stress. T or F Answer: True. Probably a result of “antagonistic pleiotropy” which means it was good for us in one environment, but not the one we are in now.
3. NAC boosts our ability to make free T3 when we are under stress. T or F Answer. Bingo. Either you guessed right or you actually read and understood the article above.
4. We make less glutathione as we age. T or F Answer: Double bingo.
5. The right way to fix our low Free T3? (Bonus question) Answer: Get rid of the stress, add selenium and zinc, make sure you have enough iodine, avoid PCBs and dioxins, and take a break from the teenager.

 

Neural Exosomes: Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Early

Neural Exosomes

References: Alzheimer’s DementScience Direct,

Neural Exosomes? Sound like Greek to you? Ever heard of them? You should have. Here’s the scoop. First, they aren’t rare. You have about some 1.2 billion of them per ml of blood. They are tiny little spheres of membrane that have budded off of neural cells. Much like the tiny vesicles that bud off a nerve cell to transmit nerve impulses between cells, exosomes are 2-3 times the size of those packages, and designed to travel further to other cells. Instead of neurotransmitters, they carry RNA instructions. Many come from the brain, but many come from other organs.

What makes them unique is the surface markers on them and the RNA in them, including messenger RNA, mircoRNAs, DNA and signaling proteins. They are not fully functional cells, they are tiny little spheres of membrane, lined/filled with all these unique markers. The range of function that is being proposed for them is that of signaling between cells, moving cellular components, like amyloid precursor protein or messenger RNA. What is known is that you can measure them in quantity and specificity way before you come down with disease. In particular, they show up as much as 10 years before your develop Alzheimer’s. Did you get that? They give you the markers of advance warning.
Now, it’s not just that advance warning they give you. Each exosome has within it a unique pattern of micro RNA and messenger RNA. What are those doing? Did you know that your own chromosomes are actually only 2% coded for your unique genes? That’s it. But did you know that the other 98% isn’t junk? It’s your instruction manual. Messenger RNA is how you send out genetic code about what to do when. This is how your body responds to development as you move from a single egg into a fantastically complicated human. Some of that code is good for you and builds you up. Some of it is like napalm, and attacks the enemy, tearing you down. And,…..here is the critical point. The messenger RNA is also how you send out instructions on how to respond to disease/threat/illness. All disease. Each condition merits different sets of instructions. That means Alzheimer’s will have different proteins in its exosomes than Lyme disease, or pancreatitis, or rheumatoid arthritis, or pneumonia. Another example function, we believe that exosomes are how we clear Amyloid Precursor Protein, APP. Lousy clearance results in accumulation of amyloid in your brain. We call that Alzheimer’s If we can learn how to interpret our Alzheimer’s exosome and how they are different, we can learn how to anticipate and react proactively. Learning how to read exosomes gives us the code to our “instruction manual”.
Now, what is coming is the next miracle. There are companies developing the software to interpret these tests who are just months away from commercial release. With that, we will be able to tell you just what you need to do next. Remember Star Trek’ Dr McCoy and the Magic Wand that would diagnose everything? Yup. That’s it. We are almost there. Maybe not a wand, but an exosome reader. It’s complicated. It is the epitome of “Big Data”.

A point of trivia: do you know how much DNA is in you? Here goes. One cell’s human DNA would stretch out about 2 meters. And considering that we have some 20 trillion cells, one human’s DNA would stretch from the sun, way beyond Jupiter. That’s a lot of DNA. Now, consider that over 99% of the DNA we carry around is actually in our gut in the bacteria of our colonic biome, now we are talking a lot of code that could be in exosomes.
WWW.What will work for me. I’ve finished Bredesen’s Certification Course this week and am just blown away by the possibilities of what we can do to reverse this wicked evil disease. It’s thrilling. And its sad. My 92 year mother with Alzheimer’s is too late to be helped. It makes this Mother’s Day bittersweet. I hope you are able to celebrate with your Mother. In a few months, we will be able to keep her safe from Alzheimer’s. In the meantime, I’m focusing on getting a good night’s sleep. You clear Amyloid much more effectively with good sleep. Maybe that’s why you feel so refreshed when you wake up.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. What is an neural exosome? It’s a little bud off a nerve cell, a bit bigger than the bud that sends neurotransmitters between nerve cells, that travels further between cells, sending messages.
  2. How many neural exosomes do you have? Answer: LOTS. 1.2 billion per milliliter of blood.
  3. What do they carry inside them? Answer: Signaling instructions in the form of RNA, microRNA, proteins.
  4. Is there a different set of exosomes for Parkinson’s versus Alzheimer’s? Answer: YES! A different set for every disease
  5. How much sooner a warning will I get if my exosomes say “Alzheimer’s Condition: Red Alert”? Answer: About 10 years, as best we know now. Much more to come, of course.