Category Archives: 24.Basic Physiology

Fast Mimicking Diet 2: The Human Method Simplified

Fast Mimicking Diet 2 The Human Method

References: Longo: The Longevity Diet, ScienceGut,

Last week we heard about yeast being used to explore what genes are needed to make the right environment for longevity. Valter Longo’s hypotheses was that those same genes exist in mammals, humans included. If he could make the same changes in longevity by diet and its effect on genes in mice that he made in yeast, he would have a huge scientific win. He started looking at mice and their genetic code. Mice live about two years and start getting cancer around a year and a half. That makes a useful model.
What did he find? The exact same thing. Two key ideas. Extra sugar activate the PKA gene. That causes trouble. Mice with lower PKA activity, live longer. That simple. And extra protein activates the growth hormone receptor and TOR-6SK and increases the level of insulin and insulin like growth factor. Certain amino acids appear to be more potent at activating the TOR-6SK complex, like leucine. which then accelerates aging. That’s it. The foundation of aging down to two simple key processes. Too much sugar, and too much protein. That duo is the foundation of what Longo called his “basic juvenology research”, one of his Five Pillars of Proof.
The story is all about the nuance of glucose and protein.

Our body runs on glucose. It is our preferred food for our brain, if present. The story is all about how it is delivered and what happens to our bodies if we get too much, too fast. When you get low glycemic carbs from vegetables, your blood sugar rises very slowly and you hardly get an insulin response. (For example, it takes 19 cups of asparagus to make 50 grams of glucose). If you have a diet of broccoli, spinach and green beans, you hardly get any insulin spike at all. A substantial portion of those vegetables make it to your colon where the biome in your colon changes those coarse fiber rich foods to short chain fatty acids, just like in gorillas (See this column from 2 weeks ago). Just like with gorillas, a high fiber diet actually results in substantial increase in fatty acids, or fat. Adhering to a Mediterranean Diet appears to make this possible, all due to the activity of the biome in your gut.
A high protein diet changes your gut biome and increases many markers of cardiovascular disease,TMAO (trimethylamine oxide). So we have seen these changes from other lines of research as well.

We are even beginning to understand the incredible complexity of our gut biome. Our colon is there to take high fiber foods and digest them for us, releasing short chain fatty acids, turning low glycemic vegetables into short chain fatty acids. Bacteroidetes are more abundant in the stool samples of those eating a mostly plant based diet, while Firmicutes were more abundant in those who eat a more animal products diet. From those major families, the specific bacteria Prevotella and Lachnospira were more common in vegetarians and vegans while Streptococcus is more common among the omnivores with higher meat intake.

Can we take this to humans with specific guidelines? Well yes. This is what Longo has come up with. Protein should be about 0.31-0.36 grams per pound per day, of which about 40 grams for women weighing 130 and 60 grams for men weighing 200. Once you hit age 65, you likely need a little more protein, but not that much. Just a little.

Your diet should be rich in healthy fats like olive oil, fish and coconut oil, walnuts and almonds. These fats essentially do the same process of helping you get more calories from fat, like the gorilla. Trans fats and saturated fats are to be avoided. And there should be plenty of Healthy Carbs – the type that make it to your colon and turn into fat. They generally have a glycemic index under 20, or 45 max which would include beans (if you aren’t lectin sensitive). The carbs that get digested in your small bowel and make sugar spikes look like ground flours of any kind, sugar in particular, high fructose corn syrup in double particular, fruit juices or too much modern fruit (modern apples are nowhere near the original Himalayan apple – ditto for pears, bananas, on and on that we have altered in the last 100 years to be much richer in sugar). Most grains are just too rich in carbs to be too good for you, unless you have changed them to be resistant, usually by cooking and then cooling. Same with potatoes. The original potato from Peru was a fine food with a GI of 40. Now it’s a glycemic index of 80-95, unless you boil it and cool it making it resistant. (Is this enough to confuse you a little?)
Finally, cut your meals down to 2 and a snack. Try to fit all your food into 11-12 hours of eating and not for 3 hours before bedtime. Breakfast is NOT the meal to skip as there is plenty of evidence that that habit correlates with many illnesses.

Ok? Next week, we will discuss how to FAST and do it right so that you kick start your genes into being supercharged. It’s cool, and it works.
WWW. What will work for me. This is evidence based and I get it. I’m so fascinated that I drew my own lab tests and started doing it full bore, as much as can be done living in a modern 8-5 work world. It’s the fasting part that has my attention. I’ve completed my first 5 day session and intend to do it again. It wasn’t so hard. More next week.

Pop Quiz


  1. Animal protein appears to shorten longevity? T or F                           Answer: True
  2. We need animal protein to support our healthy brain? T or F          Answer: Again true. Conundrum? Yup. We get B12 only from animal sources. But nature doesn’t care much about you once you have made your babies and passed on your genes.
  3. A high carb diet is bad for you. T or F                                                    Answer: All in the details. High in low glycemic green vegetables, it’s very good for you and is actually a high fat diet.
  4. The über enemy of nutrition is?                                                           Answer: Sugar, fructose in particular when it gets above the 6% found in fruit.
  5. How much protein can I have a day?                                                   Answer: 0.31-0.16 grams per pound when under 65 A little more after. But not much.


Lectin Lesson 5: Resistant Starch is a High Fat Diet – Ask the Gorillas!

References: Steven Gundry’s Plant Paradox, Journal NutritionJ. Internal MedNature,

Once upon a time our diet was very similar to gorillas. Say some 10 million years ago, and prior. We ate leaves, in Africa. Only 8 million years ago did we diverge from chimpanzees and only 2 million years ago did our brains start getting bigger in response to eating meat. We had learned to run long distance, which made us the most successful hunter in Africa. But our guts were still used to eating leaves, and designed to do so.

What happens on eating leaves? Leaves are very dense, high fiber foods. Gorillas eat about 16 pounds a day, in today’s gorilla. The gorilla can’t digest those leaves, but their gut biome can. The bacteria in their gut break down the leaves and convert the cell walls of those plants into tiny, short chain fatty acids. Net effect, the gorilla’s diet becomes 70% fat, ideal food for brain and nerve cells. What looks like a high fiber, low fat diet turns into a high fat diet when the gut biome is properly nourished and contributes like it was designed to.
Now, let’s make a pivot and see if we can find anyone on this planet who eats a high fiber, high fat diet. We end up with a unique society in remote New Guinea called the Kitavans. A Swedish Researcher, Lindeberg, did a studyon the Kitavans who eat virtually no western food, 70% carb, and 20% fat and have absolutely no obesity, no heart disease, no diabetes and live into their 90s, while smoking. Imagine that!
How do they do that? They eat a ton of resistant starches in the form of taro, coconut, fruit and fish. We find much the same from Tokolau, another remote Polynesian Island with no western food: just mostly coconuts and fish.

The key is that idea of resistant starches. These are “carbs” that don’t act like most carbs. They don’t get digested in the small bowel. In the process of cooking their molecular shape is changed.  They are passed on through to the lower gut where they are ideal foods for your gut bacteria. Your colonic biome goes nuts with happiness and digests them down into short chain fatty acids, turning what looks like carbs into fat. This is the same hat trickthe gorilla does in their gut. Not only that, with all that food, the bacteria make a thick coat of mucus in your gut and you make a much more effective barrier to absorbing those dangerous lectins and LPSs fats that turn on inflammation – so you make a better natural barrier. Resistant starches reverse the damage of red meat. Now, many resistant starch foods are high lectin foods: boiled and cooled potatoes, rice – cooked and cooled, beans and oats. Gundry acknowledges this and advises you eat green bananas. Not ripe ones where the carbs are sweet and absorbed, but green where they are still resistant.

Turn on the lens of resistant starches and suddenly long lived societies around the world come into focus. They all have the same features in common. Their diets show high fiber diets of resistant starches, which their colonic biome turns into short chain fatty acids. Their brains get high fat intake. On Okinawa, the fiber is in the form of yams. Sardinians and Cretans eat high fat in the form of olive oil. Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarian, but eat about 60% fat from olives and peanuts. The Mediterranean diet goes straight for the olive oil, making an approximate high fat diet. We know your brain does better eating fat. It has to be the right fat. And having your colon make it for you appears to be the right concept. Thank you, gorillas.

WWW.What will work for me. Gundry is turning our dietary concepts on its head. But data is data. The Kitavans make for a unique example. Ditto from Tokolau Island(70% of diet from coconut). There is rice being developed on Okinawa that is particularly resistant. I’m curious if I can find it. I’m not taking up smoking. But will I eat a bit of rice now? Yes, if it has been cooked and then cooled down. Raw banana, well, I’ll try one.


Pop Quiz

  1. Gorillas eat a high fat diet? T or F                                                    Answer: False, they eat a resistant starch diet that is turned into high fat in their gut
  2. We can find examples of high fat diets all around the world. Name some.
    Answer: Sardinians, Tokolau, Crete, Loma Linda Adventists.
  3. Resistant Starches do what?                                                            Answer: Get through your small bowel undigested and give ideal food to your colonic biome where they make small fatty acids, ideal brain food.
  4. Folks eating high carb diets are in trouble for diabetes? T or F        Answer: Stupid question because there is no nuance. Eat a pizza and the high glycemic wheat crust and fatty cheese and meat will instantly turn on weight gain. Eat a high carb diet of taro root and raw bananas, and you get no weight gain.
  5. If you smoke, you can get away with it? T or F                                     Answer: True, if you move to Kitava and eat raw bananas and taro root. Otherwise you just die sooner.




Lectin Lesson 4: What Elephants Having Heart Attacks Teaches Us About Cancer

References: Steven Gundry’s The Plant Paradox, CirculationScience Direct,Front Oncol., Glycobiology,

Ok, caught your attention? Elephants having heart attacks? Yes, it’s true. Now, when elephants live in their natural habitat that has sufficient tree and brush forage, they never get a heart attack. In the last couple of hundred years they have lost habitat and been driven to eating grasses. Elephants don’t eat grass when they have natural leaf habitat – they eat leaves. When they eat grass they develop coronary disease, just like us. Why does that happen?
We share an odd and uncommon sugar with elephants. It is called Neu5ac. I’ll call it N-A. It’s a member of the sialic acid family of sugars. We share it with shellfish, chickens and elephants. When we diverged from chimps 8 million years ago, we started making Neu5ac (N-A). Chimps make Neu5gc (N-G). As do every other mammal including the ones we eat like cows, goats, sheep, pigs. This sugar, N-A) is like a signal in our gut cells and our arteries. And grain based lectins bind avidly to it. WGA, the lectin in the wheat germ, binds avidly to it. Avidly. But grain lectins don’t bind to N-G.
Here’s where the link happens. When we eat red meat containing Neu5gc – N-G, your immune system recognizes it as foreign and makes antibodies to it. Those antibodies then turn around and attack your own Neu5ac (N-A) receptors. You get antibodies on your blood vessel walls. You call in white cells. Coronary artery disease is off and running. When elephants eat grasses, they get the same cross reactivity. Something about having grass (wheat) based lectins that attach to Neu5ac and eating the Neu5gc form of the sugars makes for that autoimmune attack.
Now, swing over to cancer. Human cancers have a lot of the Neu5gc protein in them. They put it on their surface as a means of hiding from our immune system. Wait a minute! We don’t make it. Human cells cannot make Neu5gc. Right, we don’t. Then how does the cancer get it? From our eating it in red meat. That may be the link between our eating excessive red meat, and having more cancer. The more red meat you eat, the more N-G you get to supply cancer cells with camouflage. Did you notice that chicken and shell fish don’t have N-G. They have N-A, just like humans and elephants. When you eat chicken and shell fish, you have less risk of heart disease and cancer.

The mechanism that is driving both of these phenomenon is the presence of these sialic acid sugars called Neu5ac versus Neu5gc. Their subtle name difference is the whole universe of immune recognition. That simple little alteration is all it takes for your immune system to go the wrong direction and start a process that leads to the slippery slope of coronary artery disease, or cancer.

WWW. What will work for me. This is a smoking gun. It tells us the clear mechanism by which this elegant, delicate signaling system shifts our immune reaction against either ourselves or against our own immune vessels. Or cancer. It’s simple. We get B12 from red meat. We have to have it. A tiny bit. I mean tiny bit. Seems like we need to start thinking about how we can change the balance of calories. If ketogenic eating is important for our brains, then it has to be with healthy fats, not meat. And it all comes down to those magnificent gentle animals, elephants.

Pop Quiz


  1. Elephants were designed to eat grasses? T or F                                               Answer: False Leaves
  2. When elephants eat grasses they develop what illness in common with humans?           Answer: Coronary artery disease
  3. The key link in the immune response is a lectin binding sugar called?                             Answer: Neu5ac – a member of the sialic acid family of sugars
  4. The principal damaging lectin in wheat, WGA binds to which of the two sialic acids – Neu5gc or Neu5ac?                                                                                                                                Answer: N-A not N-G
  5. Human cancer cells get their camouflage from?                                        Answer:     Red meat Neu5ga.



Lectin Lesson #3: How Lectins Make you Fat

Reference: Gundry’s The Plant ParadoxAm Jr Physiology,

Did you know that humans lost height and brain case size in the 1000 year transition from hunter gatherer to wheat grower. Gundry quotes this in his book as what has been discovered at archeological sites from those time periods. Civilization had its costs? All so that we could have kings and cities and armies and compete with your neighbors more effectively. Hmm. And we started domesticating pigs and cows, sheep and goats….so we didn’t have to go hunting. Here is Grundry’s conjecture. Wheat and lentils are amazing grains. When you eat them, you gain weight faster and more efficiently to that you can make it through winter more efficiently. Civilization liked wheat, because by putting calories on into storage, those who ate it lasted longer.
Now, extend that to today and see if it’s any different. What do we feed cows before we slaughter them for market – corn and beans? Wild pigs are lean animals. Domesticated pigs have lots of fat (we call if bacon) when fed corn and beans. Those foods make animals fat too. So Gundry’s hypothesis is that humans didn’t choose wheat and lentils to grow because they could be stored, but because you put weight on the most effectively with them. That’s his Plant Paradox. The very plants (wheat and beans) that allowed our ancestors to develop civilization and store calories for the winter were the same plants that hastened our demise from metabolic diseases. Now, that was hidden for the last 9,000 years because we died of measles and tuberculosis and cholera by age 30 anyways, and didn’t see the degenerative effect of inflammation caused by these grains. Grains became the means to civilization not because they could be stored, but because they were the most efficient means to put on weight and make it through winter. They promote more calories into fat deposit than any other food. And then, isn’t it curious that milk from black cows, so called A-1 milk, has lectin qualities to it too in its BMC-7 fragment, and promotes weight gain.
Ok, I get the historical conjecture but is there a coherent biological explanation for how this works? Yes, indeed. It goes as follows. Two key processes are going on.

First, the disruptive effect of the lectin in wheat called WGA. Wheat germ agglutinin. It looks a lot like insulin. Acts like insulin. That’s what lectins are, proteins that mimic mammalian proteins and cause damage by disruption. WGA mimics insulin, badly. Insulin attaches to a cell for a tiny amount of time, then lets go. WGA doesn’t let go. On a fat cell, the message is to take up glucose, forever and ever. That fat cell gets fatter. On a muscle cell, however, the message is to block insulin effect so muscle are starved. Again, WGA doesn’t let go so the real hormone that should be on the receptor can’t dock on its receptor and tell the muscle cell to take up glucose and run with it. Same effect on nerve cells: WGA clamps on and doesn’t let go. Nerve cells are starving. But they send out the message to the organism: “Eat more.”
Even more disturbing isrecent evidence has emerged that lectins can climb up the vagus nerve from the gut to the brain, damaging the substantia nigra, the seat of Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, cut the vagus nerve and the risk of PD drops 40%.
The final argument to support Gundry’s hypothesis might be called the Common Soil Hypothesis – that the mechanisms of metabolism and inflammation are curiously linked. You got fat because your body is at war with itself. And it goes as follows. The lectins set off your “Tiny Little Radars”, your Toll Like Proteins, that reside in your blood vessels and fat cells. They set off cytokines (your body’s fire alarms) calling for white cells to respond to clean up the invading bacteria. Except there are no bacteria. It’s just lectins. But the white cells show up. And your body shifts into war mode. Energy goes to the troops, the white cells. The stay-at-home folks, (Gundry calls them civilians but you think of them as muscle and brain cells) go on war rations and get less. Hence, you become insulin and leptin resistant not because you are overweight, but because your body is inflamed from all the fake lectin signals setting off fire alarms about invading bacteria. Your body is at war, thinking you have been invaded by bacteria, and you are all pumped up and ready to defend. Except that there is nothing to defect. The home folks starve. Fat cells get bigger.

Get it? Stop the war, send the troops home. Weight loss follows automatically. Stop eating lectins. That includes A-1 milk and cheese, nightshade plants, wheat and beans and most of all, genetically modified foods with their genetically inserted extra lectins.

www.What will work for me. This is a paradigm shift type of thinking, but it makes perfect sense. I get it. I just have to figure out how to implement it. And wheat is lurking behind every food in America. And every meat product was raised on lectin foods: corn and soybeans so the lectins in those foods are still there for me to absorb. I have to live with this a while. But I can shift a little. Less beans, less wheat. One step at a time.

Pop Quiz

  1. You are leptin resistant and fat because you eat like a pig? T or F                      Answer: That’s backwards, unless you take eating like a pig to mean you are eating corn and beans, lectin foods. The proper answer is that leptin resistance and fatness comes from the natural shifts your body makes to counter the fake messages caused by eating lectin containing foods. You eat secondarily because your brain cells and muscles are starving, ironically.
  2. Lectins set off inflammation because they activate TLRs? What are TLRs?
    Answer: Toll Like Receptors or “Tiny Little Radars” in Gundry’s clever nomenclature – your natural bar code readers watching what’s in your blood to sort our friend from foe.
  3. You can make great bacon with wild boar? T or F                                                  Answer: Patently false. To make bacon on pigs, you have to feed them corn and beans.
  4. To make bacon on you, the best foods to do that with are?                             Answer: Same as with pigs. Corn, wheat and beans
  5. Ipso facto, to lose weight you need to ?                                                                Answer: create the environment whereby you “stop the war”, turn off inflammation, rid yourself of lectins, eat what nature intended you to eat.



Lectin Lesson 2: How Lectins Cause Damage with Inflammation

References: American Heart Sci Meetings,Jr, ImmunologyResearchgateWikipediaAthersclerosis,

Just what is going on with lectins? What’s the big deal? Do they really cause trouble?

To understand those questions, you have to understand the complement system in your body. This is not about saying a nice thing to you about your hair, or your necklace, this is about your basic lizard brain immune system, your innate immune system. Your innate immune system is the first to respond to threats with non-specific responses. If you think of a series of dominoes, each of which knocks over two more, the innate immune system is the means by which your body kicks back immediately against external threats and makes immediate reactions that happens quickly in response to “invasion”. A cascade of chemicals create tags to place on the invader to tell a white cell to eat that particular invader, (Opsonization is the fancy term) or punches a hole in the wall of the invader with donut shaped proteins so the invader leaks its guts out. You can imagine, this has to be carefully controlled as if it balloons out of control, you get the shaft and your own cells get damaged. The adaptive system, layer two of your immune response, takes longer to gear up and make specific antibodies shaped precisely to attack the invader, or specific white cells armed with bar code readers to find and destroy the invader. Doing all that takes time. In the short term, the complement system is it.
There are several pathways into the complement system. The classical pathway, the alternative pathway and the LECTIN PATHWAY. Did you get that? The lectin pathway is one of the ways you set off your innate immune system. To understand this pathway you have to be able to read the following sentences without pausing: This pathway is initiated by the binding of mannose-binding lectin (MBL), collectin 11 (CL-K1), and ficolins (Ficolin-1, Ficolin-2, and Ficolin-3) to microbial surface oligosaccharides and acetylated residues, respectively. Upon binding to target molecules, MBL, CL-K1, and ficolins form complexes with MBL-associated serine proteases 1 and 2 (MASP-1 and MASP-2), which cleave C4 and C2 forming the C3 convertase (C4b2a). If you drill down into that, it simplifies to the sugar mannose that is part of many plant lectins, and your complement system watching for that sugar signature to fire off a response. Ficolins are protein lectins that come in patterns of five at a time, and also set of the lectin pathway.
Here is the rub. There is now evidence that a low lectin diet will decrease endothelial dysfunction (code word for the first step in coronary artery disease).

What’s the final implied conclusion? This is a new way to look at heart disease. Lectins play a roll is setting off inflammation. That’s a given. Lectins in the human diet have increased dramatically in the last 200 years as our foods from all over the world have become part of a new diet that never had those foods before. And in the 21st century, we have added all sorts of chemicals to our environment that allow our gut to “leak”: NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, steroids, antibiotics, PPIs. And we have genetically modified many of our foods to create grains resistant to insects by intentionally inserting more lectins into the genome of plants that we then eat. We have tilted the playing field. The slope is in the wrong direction to maintain health.
WWW. What will work for me. I am eager to learn this stuff. I was at a small plate restaurant this weekend and intentionally chose a low lectin dinner: grilled Brussel’s sprouts and calamari. I slept better last night. Hmmm. Don’t know if that’s linked. One meal does not a heart attack prevent, but Gundry has shown that a low lectin diet will reduce damaged blood vessels “endothelial dysfunction” in just a few months. I’ve been off ibuprofen now for two weeks. Never again.

Pop Quiz


  1. The Complement System is the method of English Manners and Polite Behavior. T or F Answer: well, yes, true, but not here. In your immune system, it’s your kick boxer – the first line of defense against invasion. Not polite
  2. Lectins set off the complement system. T or F                               Answer: True. There are 3 pathways to set it off and one of them specifically is started with lectins.
  3. Many lectins have a simple sugar on them that is an ID of trouble. What is it?          Answer:   Mannose
  4. You can reduce endothelial dysfunction with a low lectin diet? (What’s that?  It’s part of what we simplify to call high blood pressure, but is a bigger picture of damaged blood vessel lining.)                                        Answer:  Today’s takeaway
  5. We have had an increase in lectins in our diet in the last 100 years?                            Answer: Not only an increase by new foods, but intentionally added to many foods by genetic engineering, feeding lectins to our animals, and then the coup de grace of adding leaky gut from modern chemicals.


Copper, Another Cause of Alzheimer’s

References: Dr. WeilJ. Biological and Inorganic ChemistryFront Aging NeurosciJr Nutr Health AgingPro National Acad Sci., NeurologyEuro Biophy Jr,

We have established that iron is a problem in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). That’s clear. But are there other links? What else has changed in Western Society? One example is clean water, delivered through sterile pipes made of………copper. That is new in the last 100 years.
Wast AD rare 100 years ago? Yes. In 1900 it wasn’t even mentioned in Osler’s compendium of medical diseases. That was at a time we had over 3 million folks over age 60, and at today’s rate of AD, there should have been 36,000 cases in the USA, enough to have been noticed and commented on by Osler. So, it’s new and it’s common.
Sparks and Schreurs published an article in 2003 looking at free inorganic copper added to rabbits drinking water at a concentration of 0.12 parts per million caused AD like pathology in their brains and damaged their memory. The EPA allows 1.3 ppm of free copper in our water. That’s allegedly safe. Singh confirmed the exact same results in a mouse model of AD in 2014.
The key here is the difference of “free” copper, loose in your blood and lightly bound to albumin and organic copper, tightly bound and regulated attached to a protein called ceruloplasmin. The free copper is a problem. Squitti showed that free copper is elevated in AD, but not in vascular dementia and its ratio of free copper to bound copper predicts the range of dysfunction. Free copper comes from copper pipes. Organic copper comes from food. Don’t confuse the two, they are different in their biological behavior. Organic copper is bound to proteins, carefully guarded and processed. Free copper is not bound and is not in the protection system of the body.

Where do we get “free” copper from. Our plumbing. 90% of American homes have copper pipes in them. The use of copper took off after WWII as did the incidence of AD. It should be noted, the Japanese were hesitant to use copper and didn’t use copper in internal plumbing. They have had MUCH less AD. When Japanese move to Hawaii, they lose that advantage and develop AD just like everyone else.
What does copper do in the brain? It appears to be part of the APP and APOe protein pathology. It certainly causes oxidative stress on brain cells. It may be simpler than that. The APOe 2 gene has 2 binding sites for copper, the APOe3 gene has 1, and the APOe 4 gene (the bad one) has no binding sites for copper.

Here is the proposed sequence for copper
1. You live in a home with copper pipings.
2. Your brain copper rises as you get too much in your water
3. Your copper removal system kicks into gear, the APP system works on copper like it does on iron.
4. You have an APOe 3 gene (lousy with only one binding site) or worse, an APOe4 with no binding sites – so you can’t get rid of it at all
5. Your brain churns and churns, trying to get rid of copper with the APP protein, and it just can’t do it because you have too much copper in relationship to your APOe risk.
6. You overwhelm your brain cells. They die. You slow down.

You can’t change your genes. You can change your water. Brewer studied several hundred American homes for copper levels. He found that about a third had copper levels above 0.1 (damages rabbits and mice), about a third had levels below 0.01 and a third were in-between.. Your pipes are killing your brain.

www.What Will Work for me. I’ve been startled by checking zinc and copper levels for the last year. I have had two or three couples whom I have seen who have normal zinc and copper ratios. To a person, they have all had normal zinc copper ratios. (Remember, zinc and copper work like a teeter-totter. As copper goes up, zinc goes down and vice versa.) Healthy brains have more zinc than copper. Everyone else has low zinc and very high copper. When I went to Burma last spring and asked about AD at a nursing home we visited, I was met with curiosity and confusion. They had never heard of it. Thirty residents over 70 should have had some dementia. Their water source: a single iron pipe, outside in the courtyard. Hmmm. For now, I’m taking zinc every day. I’m thinking about how to get my water checked.

Pop Quiz

  1. Copper works on the same channels in your brain as iron causing formation of amyloid protein plaques? T or F                                                                                 Answer: That, my friend, is true.
  2. Copper is tightly regulated by nature with a protein called ceruloplasmin where it is safely sheltered. T or F                                                                                               Answer: That’s what we measure and presume.


  1. Alzheimer’s patients have high levels of “free copper” relative to bound ceruloplasmin copper. T or F                                                                                                    Answer: See the pattern we are building?     True


  1. What percent of American homes have copper pipes, and what percent have levels of copper enough to create plaques in brains (in rabbits – 0.1 ppm)?                        Answer: 90% and 30%


  1. Zinc levels balance copper, so one strategy to soften copper’s damage is to take zinc. T or F Answer: True. Get your serum zinc higher than your copper


The Trouble with Iron: Part IV The Nitty Gritty of What Happens in Your Brain!

References: The MindSpan Diet, Nature Communications, Front Aging Neurosci, Maynard: Jr Biological Chem, Annual Review of Neurosci,

Bear with me. I need to know the details of just what happens in your brain that makes iron so destructive. So here goes. You can get a wonderful synopsis by reading the MindSpan Diet book, or if you want a deep dive, I’ve got links here to some of the most meaningful literature.

For starters, what is the role of the APOe -4 gene? Having one copy doubles your risk of Alzheimer’s (AD), but two copies is a 10 times risk. Only 2% of Americans have two copies, but they are 15% of AD. Just two years ago, the AD Neuroimaging Initiative published a very strong paper showing that the APOe gene drives iron into the brain, and the level of iron in the brain, (as measured by cerebrospinal fluid ferritin) correlated with cognitive decline.

Along comes gene number 2, the APP gene. It was found in Down’s folks, who inevitably get dementia, and who have 3 copies of the APP gene. (It’s on chromosome 21 which Down’s folks have 3 copies of instead of two.)

Now, here is the key. We have 20,000 genes. Only 20 of them are responsive to levels of iron in our environment. It’s called the Iron-Response Element. It gets turned on when there is more iron, turning on the production of the APP protein. APP protein has the job of exporting the extra iron out of the brain.

The importance and centrality of the IRE system and the APP gene comes from population research in Iceland. There, a small and homogenous population allows genetic research to flourish. There are Icelandic folks who have a genetic variation of the APP gene, and they get about 10 years of brain protection out of it. Or, they have a 7.5 times less likely to get AD at age 85 than the rest of Icelanders. Lucky devils. It completely negates the danger of the APOe-4 gene. That really fingers the APP system as being in the forefront of causing AD. There it is.

So, let’s just simplify the sequence.

1.   You have too much iron, either because you ate too much red meat, took too many iron pills, or had two copies of the APO-e 4 gene. (Bad luck or bad environment.)

2.  The IRE system turns on, like your sprinkler system in your building in response to a fire.

3.   The production of APP protein turns on. (The sprinklers are blasting water everywhere, trying to douse the flame of too much iron.)

4.  The brain equivalent of Servrpro comes along to clean up the mess and ends up clipping a piece off the APP protein that gets left behind. That piece ends up accumulating in plaques, called beta-amyloid.

5.   As amyloid pieces accumulate, the clean up crew has to work overtime, using up its ability to duplicate  (the cells can only duplicate themselves so many times, each time shortening their telomeres and finally being unable to clean up at all).  Clean up slows.

6.  AD accelerates and the brain falls apart.  You slow.

Well, you can’t control your genes. You got what you got. You also can’t control the other elements of the breakdown process. But you can control your iron. That’s what is in your power.

WWW.What will work for me. It’s all about lowering your ferritin. What we haven’t talked about yet is the roll of copper. That may be as bad as iron, and that is coming next week. For now, I’m thinking about how to get rid of my iron. I’ve got too much and I now have the supplies in my office to do “phlebotomy” – cleaning and carefully draining blood out of you. If you can’t give it to the blood donation center. Please, please, please, do that first. Remember – you are aiming for a ferritin of 40. Give yourself a year to get there. Each time you give blood, your ferritin will drop about 20-40 points.

Pop Quiz

  1.   The APP protein is responsible to get extra iron out of your brain? T or F              Answer: True

2.     The Iron Responsive Element is one of 20 proteins in our genome that turns on in response to too much iron, and it turns on the production of more APP? T or F                             Answer: In a nutshell, you got it

3.   Your iron level in your spinal fluid reflects what’s in your brain. T or F                      Answer: Right again. True

4.   Blood donation will lower your ferritin. T or F                                                                 Answer; True. Isn’t that just too easy?

5.   We have tried our best to make sure people have enough iron. That is good for…..?                   Answer: Young menstruating women. Not so good for those of us over age 50.

The Trouble with Iron Part III Diabetes

The Trouble with Iron Part III Diabetes

References: Cell MetabolismJ of Diabetes Research,

You were trained to think of iron as absolutely necessary to help fatigue. “Build up your blood!” and other such phrases are deep in our subconscious. We see blood and know it is the red of iron. Iron is critical for life, because it’s the key to carrying oxygen to the tissue so that we can make energy. No doubt, iron is important. But carrying oxygen is no mean feat, as it is such a reactive chemical, it needs the strong chemical bond of iron in heme to transport it. What happens when you get too much iron?

Two conditions of too much iron are thalassemia and hemochromatosis. Guess what happens to those folks? Hemochromatosis is also known as bronze diabetes. They fill up the islet cells of their pancreas with iron, and their insulin producing capacity fails. This can be reversed with removal of the iron.

And what happens to normal folks? Well, here again we find that the tendency to being diabetic goes along with the tendency to be iron overloaded. And the devil is in the details. It’s not just the total load of iron that causes damage. It’s not just the accumulation of iron in the islets of your pancreas. It’s the whole ecosystem effect of iron. Iron plays a role in every tissue that mediates energy metabolism, particularly the fat cell. There is a whole host of signaling that occurs when iron is present with intracellular and extracellular messaging. The nuance of it is still not anywhere close to being understood, but you can get a sense for its complexity by the review in Cell Metabolism.
And what have we done, with all of our good intentions, in America. We have devised guidelines for iron supplementation that serve young, pregnant women, well. We add iron to all our grains. It is the fortification you see on the label of every kind of flour product. When you eat most breakfast cereals, particularly the ones that claim to have you supplemented with great vitamins and minerals, you will find 18 mg of iron added to each serving. But it will also be in the flour of your bagel, your hotdog bun, your Danish, your french toast. And it interferes with your metabolism of carbs, immediately. On the spot.

This raises a fascinating conjecture. Is it the iron added to carbs that makes them so problematic for weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes? Hmmm. There is enough evidence around iron to make it a perfectly reasonable hypothesis. That also explains a few conundrums that the pure carbohydrate hypothesis doesn’t solve. For example, why is red meat so insulogenic? You eat a large bloody red steak, dripping with heme, and you get a huge spike in insulin. And it may not be just the red meat per se, because we see a stronger effect with processed meats. The evidence seems to lean towards more complicated and nuanced reasons, like the amount of AGE’s and ALEs. (If you knew what those were before you read this: you are a star. AGE’s are Advanced Glycation End Products – made by roasting meat with sugared sauces and ALEs are Advanced Lipo-oxidation Products, that occur with food preparation of meats with protein and high fat content.) However it occurs, iron is in the middle of it.
Here are some tests this hypothesis. First, one must look for high ferritin in folks who have high cholesterol, moderate blood glucose and elevated insulin: all the people we thought were overindulging in carbs. So far, I’m three for three. The last one had a ferritin over 600. Another test…..why can’t women lost weight after menopause? Answer: They stop losing iron with menses after menopause, accumulate iron and have their insulin go up. That makes them gain weight. Hmmm. Ever seen that happen? They go carb free and eat more meat, and don’t lose weight. Hmmm. I’m about 400 for 400 on that one.

WWW: What Will Work for Me. I’ve paid a lot of attention to this topic in my own life. Right now I’m reading labels and finding secret iron everywhere. At the picnic last night, I avoided the hamburger offering and had two olive oil salads instead. I had just read that the iron in spinach is tightly bound by oxalates. And what about Vitamin C? It increases iron absorption 400%. Complex, isn’t it?

Pop Quiz

  1. Too much iron in you can cause you to become insulin resistant, thereby leading to diabetes risk and obesity? T or F                                                                              Answer: Bingo. True
  2. The mechanism for this cause is well known. T or F                            Answer: Well, it’s well known now but the mechanism is still murky. Too complex. The phenomenon has been observed. And ferritin is deposited into insulin cells in the pancreas, but the cellular mechanism is much more nuanced, probably because iron is so tightly regulated and bound.
  3. You should know your iron level and it should be?                              Answer:  Ferritin of 40 or so.
  4. If your ferritin is too high, you can reduce it by?                                   Answer: giving blood to the Red Cross. Come on in and we will phlebotomize for you if the Blood Donor Center won’t or can’t do it.  (Leaches.  Blood letting.  Hand to hand combat.)
  5. This iron topic is a whole new way of interpreting the problem with carbohydrates, because………..?                                                                                           Answer: we added iron to virtually all carbs in Western societies. It may be the iron, and not the carbs.  This is conjecture for now, but it sure fits.

LifeSpan versus HealthSpan

LifeSpan Versus Healthspan

References:  WEForum 2017Compreh Physiology 2012,  Med Sci-Fi Sport Exercise,

We are living longer. But are we living better? In the 20th century, we doubled our life expectancy with the miracle of antibiotics, clean surgical technique, X-rays, immunizations and clean water.  Babies being born today in advanced societies have a 50:50 chance of living to be 100. But living longer isn’t necessarily better. There have been some disturbing trends lately. Obesity has managed to reverse the climb to longer lifespan in some societies, namely the USA.

As we live longer, we have more choices about lifestyle, making research into factors affecting confoundingly complex. It becomes impossible to do “randomized, placebo controlled” studies over decades without limiting free choice and spending more money than could be allocated. This article, from the World Economic Forum this year, offers insight into the laboratory of fitness, namely masters athletes. I have a dozen or so men and women older than 60 in my practice who would qualify as exceptionally fit. And I see their lab results and their vitality. They are aging differently than those of us who are less active.

Sedentary behavior is being increasingly recognized as the driver of many of our modern conditions. Part of this discernment comes from the recognition that athletes, (high end performers) have a disproportionately share of good health. They don’t get in trouble. They still die, but their time of end-of-life disability is markedly compressed, compared to the majority of the sedentary population. They become a unique research cohort, one that we couldn’t duplicate with “randomized research”. In effect, what happens with athletes is that they reach their peak in their 30s, like all of us, but then don’t show much decline until close to the very end. The rest of us show inexorable, linear decline. “Patch, patch patch, after 40!,” we say.

At every age in life, starting exercise of any kind has benefit. And the risk of complications from exercise is far lower than the risk of remaining sedentary. The real risk is sitting. Considering computer games at home, TV, computers at work and cell phones in-between, we are mesmerized by electronic distractions that leave us sedentary. In fact, research in 2009 of 17,000 Canadians of all ages showed a dose relationship of sedentary behavior to all cause mortality, regardless of levels of exercise. That means 30 minutes in the gym does you no good if you are sitting the rest of the day. Bother.

The Author cites four strategies with references on each: 1) Move More (Just get started and move more), 2) Move Slow, (Aim for 10,000 steps a day) 3) Move Fast (Add some high intensity something, even for just 10 minutes) and 4) Move Heavy (Add some weights). Read those hyperlinks. It’s the best of our knowledge.

WWW.What will work for me. Sedentary behavior is the new smoking. If you want to live better, longer, you have to do it. Build it in every day. A day without exercise is as bad as a day of smoking.

Pop Quiz

1. Our grand-kids are likely to live to be 90+. T or F Answer: False if they are sedentary, but true if they get the exercise bug and take care of their diet.
2. Our society is becoming more active. T or F Answer: Mixed picture. But as a general rule, false. Bless those who make the answer slightly true.
3. 30 minutes at the gym has beneficial effects? T or F Answer: Sure, it helps. Its benefit may be completely erased by an 8 hour day of sitting.
4. There is a dose relationship between exercise and good health. T or F Bingo
5. Getting sweaty isn’t necessary. T or F Answer: False, if you want optimal results. Getting sweaty 3-4 times a week is much better for you.


Sulfate: Maybe it All begins with Sulfate

Sulfate: Maybe it All begins with Sulfate

References:  Holistic Primary Care,  Theor Biol Med Model,

You’ve probably heard the term -sulfate added on to many medical terms. For example: chondroitin sulfate. You might have shrugged it off like it was just an add on salt, and no big deal. In that, you may be very, very wrong. At least, you are if Stephanie Senneff from MIT is right. At last March’s Clinical and Scientific Insights Conference in San Francisco Dr. Senneff had a breakout session on sulfate and it’s importance. In sum, she argues this is one of the foundational causes of most diseases. Whoa! That’s big. How can she claim that?

Here is her logic based on proven experimental literature and known chemical principles. The sulfate anion, a combination of sulfur and oxygen, is the fourth most common anion in out bodies. It plays many critical roles detoxing drugs, digesting food, building our intracellular matrix, preventing blood from coagulating when passing through tiny capillaries. Lots and lots of roles. And where does it start? Ironically, in your skin with exposure to sunlight. A combination of red cells, cholesterol, sunlight and vitamin D are all necessary ingredients to make the sulfate anion. Senneff describes our skin as our solar powered battery because it extracts the energy of sunlight through the enzyme Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthetase that turns the energy of sunlight into the sulfate anion in your skin.
At this point, sunlight and sulfate make two new and unrecognized molecules, vitamin D sulfate and cholesterol sulfate. The Vitamin D sulfate is water soluble and can travel everywhere. The Vitamin D you take in a pill doesn’t have the sulfate attached, so can’t dissolve in water (blood) so doesn’t have near the effectiveness of the sulfated form. But ditto for the cholesterol. It’s hard to get sufficient Vitamin D from oral supplementation alone, making sunlight a critical link for good health. Hmmm….don’t you just plain feel better when you get sunlight. The principle remains, many hormones, vitamins, fats have to be sulfated to be transported in the blood.

The foundational necessity of sulfate comes down to the physics of fluid flow in your blood and blood vessels. Cholesterol sulfate lines the outside of red blood cells creating a negatively charged field so that red cells repel each other, allowing them not to stick together as they travel through all your tiny capillaries and not rupture. That same negative charge carried by sulfate creates a behavior of water atoms on the surface of blood vessels that make them super slippery, almost like a teflon surface. In fact, that effect of sulfate may be central to the actual biology of how heart disease gets started. That’s for next week.

WWW.What will work for me. If sulfate is important, where can I get it in my diet? Well, ever wondered why garlic is such a potent herb? Loaded with sulfate! And the whole broccoli, kale, cabbage family. Loads of it. Eggs. Ditto. And sunshine? Yeah, I know the dermatologists goes nuts over too much of it. But without it, you don’t make the sulfate ion in your skin. This may be another clue why Vitamin D studies haven’t always panned out. You can’t just take the pure D3. It’s sulfated D3 that’s the portable form. Like cholesterol sulfate, the portable form. That role of sulfate making our blood vessels slippery makes sulfate central to our bodies being able to be multicellular. It allows us to distribute energy and get rid of gunk. After all, glutathione is based on sulfur. On and on and on. Eat more garlic.

Pop Quiz

1. Sulfate ions are key to making water insoluble compounds soluble and that has its impact felt on what crucial vitamin/hormone?                                Answer: Vitamin D


2. Humans can live without sunlight? T or F                                    False. We get sick, not just from lack of Vitamin D,but also lack of sulfate creation by sun in our skin.


3. Human red cells don’t stick to each other because they have a halo of?                      Answer: Negatively charged sulfate atoms.


4. Blood vessels are slippery because they have a surface layer of water atoms set up by…?                    Answer: Negatively charged sulfate atoms


5. I can get more sulfate in my diet by eating what foods?                                   Answer: Kale, garlic, eggs, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts.