Category Archives: 7. Brain Health

Copper, Another Cause of Alzheimer’s

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!

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.

The Trouble with Iron – Part II – Your Brain on Iron

The Trouble with Iron – Part II Iron and Your Brain

References: The MindSpan DietNeuromolecular Medicine, Nature CommunicationsJournal Biol ChemUCLA Newsroom,

Ok you got it. You know the “AP” rule, antagonistic pleiotropy, from last week: what’s good for you at one age isn’t so good later. Young women need lots of iron to have babies. Young men need iron for their brains to develop. Young. As we get older, that changes and becomes “ANTAGONISTIC”.

What’s the trouble with iron? First of all, epidemiology. Men accumulate iron faster than women, and get Alzheimer’s younger than women. Women who have hysterectomies start accumulating iron sooner, and get dementia sooner.

Then there is pathology. All major brain diseases (Parkinson’sALSAlzheimer’s) are shown to accumulate iron in their region of damage. Iron is very reactive. With oxygen it’s a deadly combo. On our cars, we call it rust. In our brains, it wreaks havoc.
There are many mechanisms now being understood wherein iron is a problem in the brain. In essence, beta amyloid accumulates as a net effect of excess iron. And chelating that iron, in animal models, reduces the damage.

What do we see in human populations who have very little Alzheimer’s disease and who live to be 100 with healthy brains? First, they eat foods low in iron and live in parts of the world where there aren’t “fortified” grains (added iron). Their average serum ferritin is 20. In America, we call that deficient. More and more research is showing that ferritin in spinal fluid and blood predicts risk for AD. This is the perfect example of Estep’s “AP” rule. The iron we needed in youth to make babies isn’t so good for us as we age. Those, whose scales are tipped to eating more iron by intention or serendipity, are at greater risk.

The question arises, how do I get rid of excess iron? Rule #1: when in a deep hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. Stop eating iron rich foods. That included fortified wheat products. Cereals like Total contain 18 mg of iron per serving. Don’t. Steak. Don’t. Find flour that is not fortified. Find bread that is not fortified. Consider taking supplements that deplete iron. Wheat grass juice is uniquely good. Go to the Blood Center and give a pint. Often. Let them have double red cells. Get your serum ferritin to 20. AKA: KNOW YOUR FERRITIN.

www.What Will Work for Me. I’m changing my meat eating. I’m looking for unenriched flour. I just measured my ferritin and I’m over 100. Hmmm. I just might give some blood away. I threw out our red colored ibuprofen (iron coating).


Pop Quiz


  1. Iron is good for your brain. True or false                                    Answer: Ha, Trick question. It appears to be important for you when you are young, but too much is a deadly toxin as you get old. That is the AP Rule: Antagonistic Pleiotropy.


  1. We have added iron to many of our foods on the belief that it is good for us. T or F        Answer: True.


  1. People around the world who have the best functioning brains, the longest, have much lower blood iron in the form of ferritin than we have thought was safe. T or F                  Answer: Yup. Average ferritin of 20


  1. Beta amyloid in the brain might be accumulating as a side effect of our brain’s attempt to get rid of extra iron. T or F                                                        Answer: Again. Yup


  1. Getting rid of excess iron might be the only way to reduce our risk for the dangers of iron. The easiest way to do that is……?                                 Answer: Donate blood.




The Trouble with Iron

The Trouble with Iron

References: The Mindspan DietEndocrine Society MeetingHow Much Iron in My CerealJr of Nutrition,

Ready to blow your mind with a whole new set of ideas? Want to live a lot longer and have your brain survive with you? Want to have an organizing principle that explains much of the trouble with modern nutrition, that is a complete curve ball from anything you have ever heard before? Here goes. Please read the next couple of weeks of The News with great attention to the details in this column.
Dr Person Estep is not am MD, he’s the smart kind, a PhD at Harvard Medical School, in Genetics and Health Science. HIs research is into those populations of people whose brain survives into their later years, and why. I’ve just devoured his book, and if you want to preserve your brain, you should too. This is a must read.
Let me start with a few core principles and ideas that he presents. First, the concept of MIND SPAN. I want my brain to survive longer than my body. My LIFE span makes me nervous, if it’s longer than my brain span. That’s Alzheimer’s (AD). Get that? Of course your do. We all do, and right now 50% of are getting it if we have the “good fortune” of living to 85. That’s idea #1.
Concept #2 for us to all know is the idea of Antagonistic Pleitropy. (Wow, if you get this, you can skip medical school.) It’s actually a simple idea. What it means is that your bodies needs change as you age. What was good for you once, becomes bad for you later. Biology works by natural selection, and reproduction is the driving force. If you can’t pass on your genes, they can’t change. So, natural selection works only until you stop reproducing. Nature is not interested in you once the pressure of natural selection is over. Get it? What is good for you before passing on your genes, may be bad for you later. Women have to give iron to their babies. The human body needs iron for it’s blood making. And through most of human history, our guts were filled with tiny worms that made us lose iron. In this mix, men have to make sperm. Trillions of them. But sperm doesn’t involve the losing of iron. Making babies does. Lots of iron. The human species has resulted in a model that generally, in both genders, accumulates iron easily. That’s good for women, while they are making babies. And its good for all of us when we keep losing iron from intestinal parasites. What happens to us after we stop reproducing? Well, nature has no way of repairing or changing that tendency to accumulate iron after our reproductive years. What happens if we keep accumulating iron? What happens when we get good plumbing and sanitation and stop getting pin worm? Our iron leak stops.
What happens, if we decide that our society is across the board iron deficient and we add iron to all of our grains? (Look at your breakfast cereal and see how much iron you are getting. Look at your “fortified bread” and see how much iron you are getting. Consider that the USDA says that we need 18 mg of iron a day, and good science shows that actually you probably need much less, like 4 mg a day, once you hit 50. What’s happened is that in America, we have added abundant iron to our diet, to our baby formula, to our grains, our breakfast cerealsour rice, to our whole food chain. And that may be a big problem.
What if I told you that accumulating ferritin in your pancreas pushes you into diabetes? What if I told you that amyloid plaque in your brain may be a side effect of a desperate attempt to get that toxic iron out of your brain. We’ll get to that in the coming weeks.
For now, think about these two core ideas and please, look at your “fortified” flour on your shelf and read the labels for your source of iron. Think about how red meat provides you lots of iron. And next week, we’ll have more details.

WWW.What will work for me. My mind is being totally turned upside down. I can’t wait to tell you the rest. This is a whole new way of exploring the metabolic problems we face with aging. But for now, stop taking any iron in your diet. STOP. Trust me. Stop. Stop your vitamin pill with iron. Stop your fortified cereal. Get skeptical about red meat. I’ll prove it to you. Or else buy the book. Next week.


Pop Quiz

  1. The human body accumulates iron easily, too easily. When is that good, and when is it bad?                                                                        Answer: It’s good if you are a young female, having lots of babies and with lots of intestinal parasites – like humans were until 100 years ago when we cleaned up our toilets, our guts and stopped having so many babies. It’s bad when you are male, have a clean gut, live longer than 35 years.
  2. What is this effect called?                                     Answer: Antagonistic Pleiotropy. (Go straight to your third year in medical school.) What’s good for you at one age or circumstance, becomes bad for you later.
  3. We decided, as a society, that every one should have how many milligrams of iron a day?                                                                             Answer: 18
  4. How many milligrams do mature adults, past the age of child bearing need? Answer: Probably around 4.   Certainly no more than 8.
  5. Should I worry about the red color of my ibuprofen pill?                              Answer: Yes, that is actually oxidized iron. Buy another brand. The ibuprofen is good for your brain. The Iron is not.

Nine Risks for Cognitive Decline

Nine Risks for Cognitive Decline

References: The Lancet, July 2017BBC News

This week, in London, the Alzheimer’s Association International Congress, just met. One of their presentations was a publication in the Lancet detailing the current best evidence of risk factors for developing cognitive decline. The over arching principle is that the brain does show changes with time that eventually lead to withdrawal and loss of cognitive function. It shows up as short term memory loss, but starts with other risks. Prevention should be focused on building a “cognitive reserve” earlier in life. If there is to be an inevitable downward slope, change the grade of the slope.
Your brain is constantly tasked with decided what to keep and what to throw away. It is not a hoarder. It repeatedly questions what memories to discard, what are important, and which are less important. The stop sign you passed on the way to work may not be all that important to remember. It gets tossed. Where you put your keys is important, only in the short term, but can be forgotten. Your spouses birthday, now, that is important. Your brain has to sort those out. Routine and repetition can lead to letting go.

In order to do all that sorting, your brain needs data. It needs to be exercised, flexed, challenged, used. Knowing that, the list presented at the meeting makes sense. They estimated that approximately one third of dementia was amenable to prevention by early intervention. That starts with mid life hearing loss. This is the first paper that I have seen with a meta- analysis of multiple high quality studies of hearing loss as a risk for cognitive decline. It accounted for 9% of the risk. Following that was lack of a completed high school eduction (8% risk), smoking (5% risk), failure to seek early treatment for depression, (4%), physical inactivity, 3%, social isolation (2%), high blood pressure (2%), obesity (1%), Type II diabetes (1%). These all add up to the 35% percent of modifiable risk factors.
Continuing life long learning keeps your brain working with new data. Doing something “hard” every day, keeps your brain solving problems. Staying socially engaged with humans keeps all your filters of human interaction functioning. These factors appear to be important, and make sense. They flatten the slope of decline.
What is quite new in this examination is the consideration that diabetes accounts for only 1% of risk, obesity 1%, smoking 5% and physical inactivity 3%. These are far lower than prior estimates and suggest that there was no attempt or discussion about reduction and change of lifestyle risk factors. That is likely because the prior model of weight loss is all about low fat, which doesn’t work. Hence, no one has been able to succeed with weight loss, diabetes reversal, high blood pressure reversal etc. With the proper use of low carb for weight loss, modifiable risks for cognitive decline will appear to be more meaningful and effective.
WWW.what will work for me. I’m paying attention to the hearing loss concern. This is the first study that shows it to be so high on the list. It’s never been so high in any prior study. I’m going to find a time to get myself checked. I haven’t seen any other study like this, so this could be a statistical blip, but it sure catches my eye. Pay attention.

Pop Quiz

  1. The current article suggests that as much as 35% of dementia can be prevented. T or F                                              Answer: That’s there data from statistical analysis. I think the number can be much high.
  2. Mid life hearing loss can be postponed until you are on Medicare. T or F                Answer: False. It leads to social isolation.
  3. Cognitive decline is a natural process. T or F                                     Answer: Sadly true if you live long enough. Age is the strongest risk factor. What is not discussed here but is quite intriguing is that dementia may be the result of a protective or natural process going awry.
  4. Hearing loss may be far more important a risk factor than we care to acknowledge. T or F Answer: Yup
  5. The combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity are all one parcel of common problems best reversed with a low fat American Heart Diet. T or F Answer: It’s true they are all one parcel, it’s false that the AHA diet will help you.


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.


Bergamot – a Food Answer for Statins

Bergemot – a Food Answer for Statins

References:  International Jr of CardiologyScientific ResearchWikipedia,  BioMed ResearchReggio do Calabria,

Ever heard of Bergamot? Not me! You should. It’s an ancient hybrid of mandarin oranges, pumalo and lemons but is now grown as its own fruit mostly in the Reggio de Calabria region of Italy and a few other isolated Mediterranean locations. It’s not been used much outside of Italy, except perhaps as the flavor of Earl Gray Tea. There is an herb called bergamot but that is in the mint family and completely unrelated. This article is about the orange-like fruit with its unique compounds melitidin and brutieridin which have statin like qualities.

Yes, statin like qualities. We know red yeast rice has statin like effects, but bergamot has not been well known. In one study, bergamot was added to rosuvastatin to see if there was similar or additional effects. There were! The bergamot lowered the LDL fraction all by itself, but additionally lowered markers of oxidative stress. This is the real driver of blood vessel damage. You can measure markers like malondialdehyde, oxyLDL receptor LOX-1 and phosphoPKB, (in research labs, not in practice) which are all biomarkers of oxidative vascular damage, in peripheral polymorphonuclear cells.

Another study from Italy looked at both cholesterol and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease markers against the use of bergamot. These are both independent markers of risk for subsequent heart attacks and strokes. Bergamot had pretty impressive effects. In the group receiving the bergamot extract of 650 mg twice a day, a statistically significant reduction of fasting plasma glucose ( 118 to 98) , serum LDL cholesterol (162 to 101) and triglycerides (232 – 160) alongside with an increase of HDL cholesterol (38 to 49) was found. Liver functions showing fatty liver dropped too. ALT went from 54 to 36 and AST from 54 to 41. Wow!
Now, all of those same changes can be made by eating less high glycemic foods. Cut out all grains and sugar and eat lots of greens, healthy oils and vegetables and you can get much of the same. Or get ketogenic with 20 grams of carbs a day and you will see all the same effects.

WWW. What Will work for me. My eternal struggle to find a sensible role for statins keeps coming up short. And when I find a natural food that nature has made for us, I get great satisfaction. Bergamot has just been released as a supplement you can purchase. I’m adding it to my protocol for heart disease reversal. I am looking for folks who want to try it for three months and see what happens to an otherwise stable situation. I suspect it will have overlap for any condition that benefits from lower blood sugar: Alzheimer’s and cancer to name two.

Pop Quiz

  1. Bergamot is an herb that helps heart disease. T or F
    False. Get the details right. It’s an orange family fruit. The herb smells nice but is unrelated.
  2. Bergamot appears to lower heart disease risk factors more than any other single food. T or F
    That is probably true
  3. We have great research showing that it reduces heart attacks. T or F
    False. And we never will. There is no money behind this. It costs millions to follow people for years. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t. It just hasn’t been clinically proven. These two papers simply show that it has the same chemical effect as statins and lowers the key risk factors. You have to make a leap of faith to assume it would help. Probably reasonable well founded leap, but still not proven.
  4. If you have fatty liver, you should take bergamot. T or FAbsolutely true. Fatty liver is a dangerous marker for both vascular disease, but also for sudden, unexpected liver failure. That’s worse! Getting rid of fatty liver is a big deal.
  5. I need a prescription to get Bergamot. T or FFalse. I have it in my office. MD Custom Pharmacy has it. Amazon has it. Don’t get the essential oil. You want the orange extract. The oil is a mint family extract.


ADHD: Zinc and Copper

ADHD: Zinc and Copper

References:  ZRT BlogProgress in NeuropsychopharmacologyActa Paediatrica,

We have been reporting on the roll of Zinc and Copper in cognitive decline in adults. It should come as little surprise that children have cognitive issues when their zinc and copper aren’t properly tuned. With all the recent reporting about lead in Flint, Michigan, increased awareness about the dangers of lead are now common knowledge. But imbedded in the Flint story has also been data showing excess copper in many water systems, including Flint’s.

The human body needs a very fine balance of copper and zinc. Copper is needed to make dopamine. Dopamine is a happy hormone when properly balanced leads to alertness and good motivation. But too much copper makes for too much dopamine, which then turns into norepinephrine, leading to irritability, hyperactivity, impulsivity, agitation and aggressiveness. Hmm. Sounds like ADHD to me. Most ADHD meds work by increasing dopamine. But with excess copper, that won’t happen. In fact, you get the opposite. And excess copper blocks the production of serotonin, another happy hormone resulting in depression and anxiety. A randomized trial of adults with ADHD showed the same thing; those with higher copper levels had worse response to treatment than those with lower copper levels. Conclusion: too much copper isn’t good for you.
What about zinc? Well, zinc and copper behave a bit like a teeter-totter. One goes up when the other goes down. Living in a world of copper pipes that leach copper, just like lead pipes leach lead, we are all getting too much copper. And as a consequence, most of us have too like zinc. What impact does that have on ADHD? Many studies have proven that zinc deficiency plays a strong role in ADHD. A recent study from Egypt showed a direct inverse relationship with zinc levels and hyperactivity. Those with the lowest levels of zinc had the worst problems with conduct, anxiety, hyperactivity. Hence, it’s not hard to show that kids with the lowest levels of zinc have the worst symptoms.
Guess what happens when you resupply zinc back? Your teeter totter balances back. Rising zinc lowers copper. And research in ADHD has shown exactly that. When 400 kids with ADHD were given zinc at 150 mg a day for 12 weeks, those given the zinc had markedly less (statistically significant) hyperactivity, oppositional behavior and improved attention. 150 mg is a whopping big dose of zinc and is safe only in the short term, like 10 weeks. But even 15 mg a day for 10 weeks results in significantly better behavior and attention.
Did you get all that? We know zinc plays a big role in adults but this was news to me, it’s effect on kids with ADHD. Considering that zinc is so critical to a healthy brain, it’s not surprising. Particularly considering the diet of most American kids, not a lot of: oysters, beans, nuts, clams, and whole grains and dairy. Maybe the dairy. But then, there is the issue of A1 milk with dairy, so nix that.
WWW.What will work for me. I’m taking zinc myself to keep my Zinc level above my copper as a function of brain health. Most of the folks I’ve measured it in require 25-50 mg extra a day to increase their zinc above their copper, and even then it takes a year to get there. I have seen so many people with zinc levels in the 50s, when it should be in the 90-100s, I’m not surprised that it has an effect. That low has to be problematic, when hundreds of enzymes use zinc as their focus. Our immune system requires it for proper functioning. I’ve heard of one serious zinc toxicity case, so I do know you can take too much. Get it measured.

Pop Quiz

  1. Zinc supplementation is helpful in ADHD. T or F

Bingo. In a nutshell.

Zinc is common in fruits and vegetables. T or F

Well, more so in sea food like oysters and clams, nuts, whole grains and dairy.

There are studies showing that 150 mg of zinc is safe? T or F

It’s true, if you only take it for 12 weeks, the length of the study here. Otherwise, it can lower copper too far.

4.  Zinc and copper are both in some odd relationship to each other, with copper driving zinc down, and vice versa. Like a teeter totter.

Yup, yup, yup

Too much copper is bad for ADHD. T or F

Again, yes. And that is why you need zinc supplementation to lower your copper level. I suspect we are going to find that too much copper is bad for lots of mental health problems. To follow


POMC: The God Protein

References: Wikipedia, Uniprot,

Proopiomelanocortin. Repeat after me. Proopiomelanocortin. Bet you never heard of that before. What is it? It’s the protein that runs you. It’s a large protein that is in your pituitary gland that is made from pre-pro-proopiomelanocortin, a 285 amino acid long peptide that is activated once the 44 amino acid activating fragment is removed. Then it is ready for activation. It’s all in its name, at least part of it. Opio – it has opioid activity in part of it. Melano – it has melatonin activity. Cortin – it has cortisol activity. The devil is in the details. It is the prototype-hormone that can be split in many directions, depending on what enzymes attack it and chop it up into other pieces. It is those other pieces that become the hormones that run your body. ACTH heads off to the adrenal glands, giving you cortisol for energy and stress response. MSH has all sorts of appetite and sexual activity implications. The appetite part works through leptin. Generally it suppresses appetite as does leptin, when you aren’t leptin resistant. Beta-endorphin manages pain perception and immune function.

The devil is in the details. POMC can be chopped up into at least 10 different hormones, depending on where it is chopped. All the regions are overlapping with each other so any one hormone that is created might nix the making of another. It all depends on which chopping enzyme gets activated, and the activation is managed by adding or subtracting marking sugars or acids attached on certain sites.

An example of how it works goes as follows. You go to the gym and exercise like crazy. Imagine a good Cross Fit workout, or a great tennis match, or a hard 5mile run. Your body is demanding more fuel so you put out the call for more cortisol to mobilize more fuel. To make more cortisol, you need ACTH. First you chop the pre-pro-proopiomelanocortin into proopiomelanocortin. From that you then chop it into ACTH. When you make ACTH, you also, by chance make beta-endorphin. That’s your natural opioid. Presto: you feel a warm glow of happy feelings. The runner’s high.

That’s what happens when it works well. Guess what happens when it gets screwed up? The CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) as typified by black mold attacks you right at POMC. By downregulating the natural ebb and flow of POMC, you block beta-endorphin, ACTH and leptin which results in your being utterly unable to lose weight, not sleeping well, hurting all over and having no energy. Sound like anyone you know? We shy away from all those folks because it is to awfully overwhelming. We call people with that “Chronic Fatigue” or “Fibromyalgia” and give them pain pills and usher them out as fast as possible.

It might be kinder to investigate why they are feeling so awful. Ritchie Shoemaker, the author of the web site claims that 80% of folks with chronic fatigue actually have CIRS, and positive markers for mold. They represent as many as 25% of the population when you do genetic testing for those who are susceptible to mold toxins. All they need is repeated exposure. 2% of folks are exquisitely sensitive, and 5 minutes in a sick water damaged building will set them off. If you can fix their POMC and get it back to normal function, their suffering will be over and they will claim you were the dispenser of a real miracle: the God Protein.

WWW.what will work for me. I’m totally fascinated with POMC and have started working on being certified as a Black Mold specialist. It’s a couple hundred articles and pages of reading, but if I come out being able to fix those folks who have been blown off by 8 other physicians and given nothing but symptom relief, I’ll be pleased. I am getting awfully hyper about any water leaks in my house. There are roofers up on our roof right now making sure our house stays dry. Mold will happen anytime you let water leak in your house, and don’t fix it promptly.

Pop Quiz

‪1. POMC is the prohormone that modulates your sex drive. T or F

Well, part of it does. There are implications for sexual function in MSH but more of it’s components go to energy and pain control

‪2. POMC can be chopped up to make how many hormones?

A: At least 10 and maybe more

‪3. Can they all be made at the same time?

No, any given combination will only make 2 or 3 depending on where you cleave the protein. This means there is lots of overlap.

‪4. The toxins of mold do their dirty deed by disrupting POMC. T or F

A: Bingo

‪5. Mold illness is rare. T or F

Are you kidding? Probably as many as 25% of our population has the genetic tendency to be affected. Likely only 2% are exquisitely sensitized, but that is still a huge number. (6-7 million exquisitely sensitive, 90 million partially sensitive.)