Category Archives: 3. How We Should Eat

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.

 

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.

 

Eat Spinach, It’s High Fat Food

Eat Spinach, it’s High Fat Food

References: WikipediaBMJHarvard HealthJ Clin GastroScience Based Medicine,

I’ve learned that sugar and white flour is bad for my brain, my weight and just about everything else. Everyone around me is on a Keto Kick trying to lose weight with the Ketogenic diet. And it doesn’t work for me. How can I eat a high fat diet? And what I’m most worried about is my brain. How can I prevent Alzheimer’s?
Well, step one and two of Bredesen’s RECODE program are to eat a low carb high fat diet, and to not eat each night for 12 hours. This is how you teach your brain to run on ketones.

The conundrum comes when I try to eat low carb by having steak, bacon, eggs and cheese. And then my weight doesn’t budge. What gives? Turns out that animal protein and fat are not so good for us. Animal protein turns on the mTOR gene, that makes me age faster. I don’t want to do that. In the last few years, two studies about eating more animal and heart disease have bothered me. A BMJ article from Sweden shows that men who eat animal protein have a 5% increase for heart disease for every 5 gram increase in animal protein. And the Harvard Professional Men’s Study showed that men in the top quartile of meat consumption had 70% more heart disease.

What’s a person to do? Well, eat more vegetables. Guess what happens to vegetables and resistant starches? Where are they digested? Turns out not in your stomach, and not in your small bowel but in your colon by the biome of bacteria in your colon. Resistant starches are carb rich foods prepared in a certain way or eaten before fully ripe. Green bananas, for example are quite resistant and get digested in your colon into short chain fatty acids. Ditto for Peruvian potatoes, cooked and then cooled. The amylose molecule changes its shape with heating, and then again with cooling, making it indigestible in your upper gut which delivers it to your colon, where the bacteria break it down to short chain fatty acids. Propionate and butyrate are amazing super foods. They are the short chain fatty acids that nourish you and your whole body. They are fats. Eating spinach makes for fat. Green beans, ditto. Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage– if it’s above ground, its probably going to go the same route.

Enter the Kitavans. A small island off New Guinea where 80% of folks smoke, but they eat no sugar or western food, and have 70% of their diet from resistant starch and coconut. They are all slender, have no vascular disease or AD. One could properly conclude that their diet is high fat: a combination of coconut and resistant starches from yams and taro.
Hence, a vegetable based diet can be ketogenic. Get it? Eating salads with lots of olive oil, is more fat based than you thought. Do you see the path forward?
www.What will work for me. I went to a Mexican restaurant last night. We had guacamole for hors-d’oerves and I had a shrimp and avacodo/lettuce salad. I felt quite smug navigating a typically high carb, high animal fat environment and escaping feeling good about my meal. This morning, a spinach omelet. I’ve finished 3 cycles of the Fast Mimicking Diet and I’m done another 4 pounds.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Eating leafy green vegetables turns your fibrous foods into?                      Answer: Fat in so many words, short chain fatty acids
  2. What other foods turn into beneficial fats?                                                     Answer: Resistant starches like cold potatoes and cold rice (emphatically NOT fresh not rice or potatoes), green banana, kasava,
  3. What small group of people smoke like chimneys but have no heart disease and live into their nineties?                                                                                             Answer: The Kitavans
  4. Bredesen calls for a diet composed of?                                                        Answer: Healthy green vegetables, olive oils and very low carbs, low animal fats and low animal protein
  5. What are we trying to teach your brain to do with this strategy?                 Answer: stop running on glucose and learn to use ketones as fuel (small fatty acid molecules) obtained from eating coconut oil, olive oil, and ironically, green vegetables.

 

Fast Mimicking Diet 8: Alzheimer’s and Neurological Disease

Fast Mimicking Diet 8: Neurological Disease

References: The End of Alzheimer’sAgingJAMA Internal MedicineScience DailyCell Metabolism,

What we most fear in aging is Alzheimer’s disease, in particular because it we live to be 85 years old in America, 50% of us develop dementia. In England, Alzheimer’s beats heart disease as the number one cause of death. It is the penultimate marker of aging, and its prevention is a high priority. Bredesen has developed a unique program in which he believes “No One” should get Alzheimer’s. It should be noted that the very first step in his program is a low carbohydrate diet, and the second is 12 hours of nightly fasting. These are both cardinal features of the Fast Mimicking Diet.
Longo has taken his own unique approach to the problem be starting with mice having the same genetic defects that lead to dementia in humans. Mice can be genetically manipulated to have clean experimental models for Alzheimer’s, and they develop it in much shorter time periods. He conducted an experiment in which every other week, the study mice received very low essential amino acids, mimicking a protein deficient fasting diet. He found a 75% reduction in IGF-1, the growth factor that strongly correlates with cancer, that persisted months after the fast mimicking period. And those mice performed better on cognitive testing.

The next sep was to examine the features of healthy human diets that resist Alzheimer’s. Mediterranean diets that are rich in olive oil show resistance to Alzheimer’s. 447 study participants were randomized to getting extra olive oil and 1 oz of nuts a day or a regular diet. The extra nuts and fat made a difference with less cognitive decline, albeit modest on the order of 13%. Bredesen takes this further and advises that people eat coconut oil every day and add extra olive oil to their diets.

We don’t have huge human studies yet on the FMD but Bredesen has now added intermittent fasting, along Longo’s admonitions to his protocol as foundational to the life style changes we need to make in his Alzheimer’s ReCode program. It is all part of tipping the balance in the human brain towards building new cells and stop making beta-amyloid.

To summarize, the Fast Mimicking Diet requires a 5 day stretch each month of 1,100 to 800 calories. The calories are 7% protein and at least 50% fat – mostly from nuts and coconut.  In between the 5 day cycles, you should have at least 12 hours a night of fasting, 14 hours if you have 2 APOE4 genes and keep shifting your calories towards vegetables and away from animal (cheese, yogurt, milk, meat). Consider fish a twice a week treat. Two key things happen with this: a) you turn on your vacuum cleaner (called apoptosis) that cleans up unhealthy, dead cells and b) your stem cells surge and stay up for months every time you do it. Your brain needs stem cells.

www.What will Work for me. Well, I start month three on my own experiment today, Monday. I’ve been assembling snacks and kits of alternative foods so that I can figure out how to do this without buying the kits, as I intend to do this the rest of my life, at least every 3 months. And the walking season is upon us. The snow is gone (almost) so time to get my 10 k day.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. What happens in mice’s memory who do the FMD?                         Answer: they get better memory and their IGF-1 dropped 75%
  2. Do mice give us a good model for humans?                                      Answer: Unfortunately, no.
  3. Longo has published a great article on Fasting and its Mechanisms?               Answer: Yes: Homework!
  4. What two core beneficial effects occur with 5 days of Fast Mimicking?            Answer: a) Your vacuum cleaner and b) New Stem Cells to replace the gunk
  5. How many hours a day should you NOT eat?                                     Answer: 12 is a minimum, 14 is better, and mandatory if you have two APOE4 genes.

 

Fast Mimicking Diet 5: Cancer and the Magic Shield

Fast Mimicking Diet 5: Cancer and the Magic Shield

References: CellBMC CancerCancer CellPLOS Biology,

Last week we learned about reversing diabetes. This might be the Holy Grail of modern medicine. The prevention and treatment of cancer might be just as important. Cancer frequency increases with age, essentially equating aging with more disease. How to prevent it?
The first key concept is to understand how cancer comes about. It takes a key mutation, or probably several mutations or changes in the DNA sequence of a cell, for the cancer cell to develop “oncogenes”, cancer favoring genes. Cancer cells stop obeying orders, which in fact makes them weaker and more vulnerable to damage from external toxins. This is why Vitamin C, ozone, and many chemotherapy drugs have a deterring effect. It’s as though cancer cells are race cars with the accelerator stuck to the floor: they can’t slow down.

Longo recognized that key characteristic of cancer cells, and the essential response of healthy yeast/worms/mice to the fast mimicking diet. When you deprive healthy cells of key nutrients for a fixed period of time, they recognize that they are in trouble. The “get the memo” and respond by hunkering down. Longo called it the “magic shield”. Cancer cells can’t do that. The cancer cell tries to keep growing, even with no nutrients around.

In an experiment with mice, one of Longo’s graduate students gave mice chemotherapy and compared a group with normal daily diet versus some fed no food for two days prior to the chemo. The differences were striking. The fasting mice were dandy, the normally fed mice all got sick. In a week or two, 65% of the regular diet mice were dead. The same dramatic effects were found when micewith lung cancer were given chemo with or without fast mimicking: the fasting mice had 60-70% remission rates compared to much lower in the normally fed mice.
It appears there are two key dynamics going on with this cancer effect: the first is that the fasting weakens the cancer cells, making them more vulnerable. The second is that it renews and “revs” up the immune system, making it more aggressive against the cancer cells..

And the effects go beyond just making the immune system stronger. The use of potent steroids is a part of many chemo regimens with mixed blessings as the resulting elevation of glucose adds to toxicity. The FMD reduces glucosedramatically, suggesting that the use of steroids should be reconsidered.

Where are we with randomized clinical trials in cancer? Considering that there are several hundred types of cancer scattered all over, it takes a while to conduct studies on any one cancer with this strategy, so there are very few studies completed. The three or four that Longo refers to in his book make the strong argument for safety of the strategy, reduction of side effects, increased ability to complete chemo regimens. With that in hand, Longo suggest the following guidelines in his book. 1. If the oncologist agrees, the patient may fast or do the FMD for three days before chemo and 1-2 days after standard chemo drugs. 2. If fasting, make sure you don’t resume regular eating immediately following the chemo as the rebounding growth of liver cells at a time of lingering blood levels of chemo lead to liver toxicity. Weather it out with fasting at least 24 if not 48 hours after the chemo. And start slowly on vegan food, with lots of olive oil: rice, bread, pasta, vegetables and soups. Finally, try to return to normal body weight between cycles. If on any diabetes drug, please, please consult a knowledgeable physician first.

WWW. What will work for me. And just what do you want to do if you have high risk for cancer? Start by reading Longo’s book. If I had the BRCA gene, I would be doing this diet for the rest of my life. I do have diabetes genes in my genetic code, so I probably will be doing this the rest of my life, just like all of us should be. Your blood tests will tell you how often you should be doing it. In the meantime, I’ve now seen three people with dramatic success in just a few months with their diabetes getting better. Want to join that list?

Pop Quiz

 

  1. The Fast Mimicking Diet is called what by Longo?                                                Answer: The Magic Shield
  2. Cancer cells disobey orders and can’t do what?                                                   Answer: Take their foot off the accelerator and stop growing when there are no nutrients around.
  3. What happens to your immune system against cancer after you FMD?            Answer: Rev Rev.
  4. What’s the likelihood of your doing better if you do FMD while getting chemo? Answer: Fewer side effects and likelihood to get more chemo in you.
  5. Do we want you to lose weight via the FMD when you have cancer?                 Answer: NO! In between cycles we want you to gain it back.

 

Fast Mimicking Diet 4: Reversing Diabetes

Fast Mimicking Diet 4, Reversing Diabetes

References: Whitehall StudyCirculationAgingDiabetes CareCell,

This is a big deal. If you read no email this year but this one, you will be well served. The reversal of diabetes is so important, it is a game changer for all of medicine. Why? Two reasons.

The first is that it is so destructive, effecitively being the cornerstone for all our diseases of modern society. We have defined diabetes by committee and decided that it really wasn’t a disease until you got to a blood level of 124 or so, measured twice, or a Hemoglobin A1c of 6.2 or 6.4 (Remember: the A1c is the percent of hemoglobin molecules with a glucose stuck on them. Red cells live 100 days, about, which makes the A1c a nice surrogate marker for your average glucose over the last 100 days.. But that is looking at a disease you might think about treating. What would happen if you decided to consider what blood sugar results in optimal function? I would refer you to the Whitehall Study from England, It showed that for every point of glucose above 86, you have a 5% increased risk of heart disease. And there is wide acknowledgement now that we need to lower blood sugar, which modern medicine does by treating with drugs. That means an optimal blood sugar should be 86. Bredesen shows abundant evidence that a HgbA1c of 5.5 is what you want if you are anxious about Alzheimer’s.

The second is that everyone has it. There are all sorts of papers saying how many millions of people have it, but that is the DISEASE. If you want optimal function, the picture is much gloomier. The simplest explanation of how your body progresses to diabetes is as follows: your fat cells become insulin resistant in relationship to their size. As you get fatter, your fat cells get bigger. You don’t make ore. And your insulin receptors get further apart, So you become insulin resistant. You raise your insulin to keep that blood sugar in control, which you can only so for so long. After a while, you run out of the ability to keep raising your insulin level. It’s as though you were only given so much insulin in a lifetime. As long as you were only burning a tiny amount a day, you can live a very long time. But it has become pretty apparant that once we get overweight, we are burning up our insulin supply faster than we can maintain for a lifetime of 100 years. And that is what we see today in modern medicine. As we age, being a bit plump gradually turns into our blood sugar slowing rising, and your being put on one pill after another until you get to age 55 or so, and then you flunk out and get put on insulin. Your islets in your pancreas look shaggy with fewer healthier insulin producing cells. And then your kidneys fail and you get on dialysis, and then you flunk and get Alzheimer’s. Till now, the key to reversing diabetes has all been about losing weight, making fat cells smaller and getting the residual ability you have to make insulin in line with your reserve of insulin producing capacity. Imagine having an insulin level of 35 when you weight 190, but a level of 2 when you weight 132. That’s what we see clinically happening.

Here is where the Fast Mimicking Diet (FMD) comes in. What would you think if I told you that the FMD turns on the genes that literally wipe out old, dead, decaying tissue and starts rejuvenation of new insulin producing cells? Yes, produces new insulin cells. We have never seen anything quite like this before. This is like the holy grail of medicine, and it’s right there in front of our faces. The FMD turns on genes that support resiliency, getting rid of old garbage that’s in the way and turning on the growth of new stem cells. This is dieting for your genes sake. And all we are asking of you is 5 days a month until you have got yourself fixed.

WWW.What will work for me. I’ve been getting older and I have a family history of diabetes. To my alarm, this year my A1c ticked up from it’s usual 5.2-5.4. I’ve already done one cycle. I’m starting cycle number two. I just came back from a trip to see old friends I grew up with in India. I’m going to send them copies of Longo’s book. My advice to you is to not trust me, or your own doctor on this topic. Trust your own lab results. Watch your own response. The data is there. This diet will eventually become the “human diet”. We will all be on a variation of it. The good news, if you don’t have any risk factors, is that you only need to do it twice to three times a year, provided you exercise properly.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Diabetes starts at a Hemoglobin A1c of 6.2. T or F                                         Answer: true, if you call it as the disease and use current medicine’s standards. Optimal is a whole different story. If you have worries about heart disease, Alzheimer’s. autoimmune disease.. or just want to age gracefully into your 90s, you want an optimal A1c: below 5.5
  2. You can lower your A1c by losing weight. How does that work?                    Answer: your fat cells get smaller and the residual insulin you have left become in line with the amount you need to control those fat cells.
  3. If I’m getting a little older and a little heftier, what is happening to my insulin producing cells in the islets in my pancreas?                                                                                 Answer: They are getting fewer and making less insulin.
  4. How many days do I have to do this diet thing?                                                Answer: 5. Four, as best we know, isn’t sufficient.
  5. What is an optimal blood sugar?                                                                         Answer: Your family doctor will tell you under 100 or so but won’t call you diabetic until you are 126, or if they are just checking your urine, you will be normal when you have a sugar below 180 because your kidneys can reabsorb anything below 180. (I kid you not, I talked to a person this week whose doctor was still checking urine for diabetes.)

 

Fast Mimicking Diet 3: The Fasting Part

Fast Mimicking Diet 3 The Fast Mimicking

References: Longo: The Longevity Diet, [Science], Science DirectCellCell Metabolism,

I like to eat. I get hungry. What is it about fasting that makes me do better? Let’s review. Valter Longo found that there were two processes in yeast (very primitive organism) and mice (sophisticated mammalian organism) that respond in the same way. RAS and TOR. Those are the two pathways that appear to accelerate aging. Sugar turns on RAS-PKA and extra protein turns on TOR-6SK Growth Hormone Pathway. If you can down regulate the RAS pathway, you increase the rate of clearing out old, dead, malfunctioning tissues and organelles. That’s called autophagy. TOR is an internal monitor of nutrient density and controller of cell growth. Can’t grow if you don’t have enough food. Dial TOR down and cells stop dividing and go into hunker down mode. Alter those two pathways and presto, chango, you have gotten to the root cause of aging in humans. That discovery, that these two pathways are fundamental to all life on this planet, starting with yeast and moving all the way up to humans, is Longo’s key contribution to modern understanding of aging.
Fasting turns both those pathways in the right direction. It takes about 24 hours to use up the glucose in your liver, stored as glycogen. The human body then switches to burning fat from stores in fat cells. The brain and body utilize ketone bodies in a process termed ketolysis, in which acetoacetic acid and 3-β-hydroxybutyrate are converted into acetoacetyl-CoA and then acetyl-CoA. In yeast, glucose, acetic acid and ethanol, but not glycerol which is also generated during fasting from the breakdown of fats, accelerate aging. Not glycerol. Did you get that? There is one carbon source that doesn’t turn on the nutrient recognition pathway. Glycerol is the 3 carbon fragment that holds fats together in tri-“glycerides”.

Fasting for 3 or more days in humans causes a 30% decrease in circulating insulin and glucose, as well as a reduced level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), the major growth factor in mammals, which together with insulin is associated with accelerated aging and cancer. Fasting for five days results in a 60% decrease in IGF-1and a 5-fold or higher increase in one of the main IGF-1-inhibiting proteins: IGFBP1. This effect on IGF-1is mostly due to protein restriction, and particularly to the restriction of essential amino acids, but is also supported by calorie restriction since the decrease in insulin levels during fasting promotes reduction in IGF-1. In humans, chronic fasting does not lead to a decrease in IGF-1 unless combined with protein restriction.
Did you get all that? It’s the protein restriction that matters. Five days appears to be the time period in which maximum reduction of cancer growth factors and insulin occurs. You can trick the system with some glycerol which doesn’t register as a sensed nutrient. And we have some markers of metabolism to show your success. 5 days. Reduced protein, animal in particular. Cut the calories down to low enough to turn on and maintain ketogenesis. Sounds like about 800 a day will work. The goal isn’t to lose weight but to turn on anti-aging genes.

WWW. What will work for me. Well, I’ve finished one cycle for myself and lost 6 pounds while doing it and another two pounds over the subsequent three weeks. Not bad. I’m going to do two more cycles and then repeat my own lab tests. Glycerol makes an interesting little sport drink. It’s slightly sweet and with a bit of flavor added from a tea, it’s not so bad. I’ve bought some hibiscus tea.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. What nutrient can you consume that is slightly sweet and doesn’t trigger calorie sensing? Answer: Glycerol
  2. What amino acid turns on aging, and absence turns off aging? Answer: leucine in particular.
  3. Five day fasting results in a 60% decrease in what? Answer: IGF-1 or our Growth Hormone surrogate marker.
  4. Along with that, you get up to a 5 fold INCREASE in what IGF-1 inhibitor? Answer: IGFBP1.
  5. What lab tests might you want to know if you were getting success in your fasting methods? Answer: Glucose, insulin, IGF-1 and IGFBP-1

 

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.

 

Fast Mimicking Diet 1: Starting With Yeast

Fast Mimicking Diet 1: Starting with Yeast

References: Fabrizio Science 2001Science Translational MedJBCPNASGenetics,

You’ve heard of fasting and how it encourages the body to live longer. Well, sort of. The problem is, you like to eat. And eating is critical to keeping you alive. Let’s turn it around a little and come at it from a different way. Can we make the argument that we can identify the process by which changing patterns of food, including low calorie periods of time, turn on “good genes” and what are those “good genes”?
Turns out no one had looked at aging from that point of view prior to Valter Longo. He set out on his career with the premise that the way to explore healthy aging should be to identify and encourage the genetic processes by which we can build resiliency and healthy aging. He started with yeast because they live just a few days and all 6000 of their genes are known. It’s easy to make mutations and delete a gene and see what happens. Here is what he found.
In yeast, if you take away all nutrients from them except water, they live twice as long. Hmmm. If you add back nutrients, one at a time, the only one that accelerates aging… the ONLY one, is sugar. It activates two genes called RAS and PKA and inactivates enzymes and factors tha protect against oxidation. Boom, there he was. He found a key pathway in the gene signaling pathway that caused aging. And when he came out with it, as the basis of his PhD thesis, it was so new and so far ahead, no one would believe how a lowly graduate student could come up with such a significant finding, and he was ignored and avoided. He teamed up with folks looking at more complicated organisms, worms, and found much the same but to jump from yeast to humans was too big a paradigm shift for folks to believe, and thereby publish his data. It took 6 years for him to get published in Science, and another eight years to get a study on humans showing how down regulating the human growth hormone gene helped humans live longer Sci Trans Med would be published.
He discovered that dwarf yeast and mice lived 2-6 times longer, so he sought out populations of dwarf humans in Ecuador, the Laron Syndrome folks, who are tiny dwarfs that smoke, drink, eat fried food and don’t get any diseases of aging like diabetes and heart disease. Studying that population found that their defect in their growth hormone gene forced their body to go into constant regeneration mode. Studies of their brains showed that their brains were much younger in function than the rest of their bodies. That was the key. Regeneration mode. What on earth was going on? He suddenly found his ideas being accepted. Even the Pope wanted in, and he took some of his Laron buddies off to Rome to review his finding.

Starting with that research, Longo noted that aging is the risk factor that is common to all disease. The older you get, the higher your chances of getting……..you name it, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s. Hence, start with that problem. Reduce the aging pathway and those diseases will take care of themselves. That’s why the Laron stayed “healthy”, despite all their bad habits. So, can we duplicate that by changing the way we eat? Yup.
What is the simplified version that we can understand? Easy. There are two pathways that appear to accelerate aging. The Sugar pathwy turns on RAS-PKA and extra protein turns on TOR-6SK Growth Hormone Pathway. If you can down regulate the RAS-PKA pathway, you get autophagy – you gobble up old dead stuff and get rid of it. TOR-6SK is a critical monitor of nutrient density and controller of cell growth. Dial TOR down and cells stop dividing and go into hunker down mode. Alter those two pathways and presto, change, you have gotten to the root cause of aging in humans. That discovery, that these two pathways are fundamental to all life on this planet, starting with yeast and moving all the way up to humans, is Longo’s key contribution to modern understanding of aging.

How can you alter those two? Next week.

www.What will work for me. I’m enthralled with the beauty of creation. From yeast up to humans, we can follow the same biological processes down at the cellular level, and then follow them up through all biology. The Laron People have a terrible mutation in that they end up being only 3-4 feet tall, and then live to 90 with no diseases. And all of this is connected to how we eat. Next week.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. If you feed yeast one food, they die much faster. What is it?                    Answer: sugar
  2. The one process that makes years live twice as long is?                            Answer: feed them nothing but water.
  3. Who are those people in Ecuador that live to be 90 with no diseases, despite eating fried food and smoking like chimneys?                                                                  Answer: The Laron who have a defect in growth home production – and end up 4 feet tall.
  4. What two pathways do we share with yeast, and mice, and worms, and snakes, and monkeys and everything in between?                                                            Answer: TOR and RAS
  5. What do TOR and RAS do (BONUS POINTS)?                                                 Answer: RAS measures nutrients and turns of housecleaning when there aren’t any. TOR measures nutrient density and turns on “hunker-down” mode when there is little.