Category Archives: 7. Brain Health

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.)

Taurine: Your most abundant and important amino acid

Taurine: Your Most Abundant and Maybe Important Amino Acid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pop Quiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‪It may be that simple. Yes.

Soccer Headers Cause Memory Loss

Headers in Soccer Cause Instant Damage to Memory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pop Quiz:

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

That would be a yes.

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

That’s what this study shows here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Autophagy: A Nobel Prize Idea

Autophagy: A Nobel Prize Idea

References: Nobel Prize 2016, Science Direct, Wikipedia,

Published Oct 24, 2016

What on earth is autophagy? It’s “eating oneself”, and as morbid as that sounds, it is actually a critical function of cells. In effect, it is the processing of degraded and broken internal cellular components back into energy and basic building blocks. It’s like you taking out your old washing machine to the curb to be picked up and taken to the crusher to be made back into a Ford Fiesta.

Autophagy is a key function of the brain, and imagine my surprise when I heard it mentioned on a TED talk. It is known to be a key component of Alzheimer’s Disease. And disordered sleep is a cardinal symptom of Alzheimer’s. Just what is happening when you sleep that makes autophagy happen?

Lots of this science has come together in just the last few years. The discovery of the glymphatic system in the brain and its behavior during sleep is one of the most interesting advances. For those of us who thought that sleep was reorganizing memory and just resting, turns out it is a lot more interesting.

What is now clear is that the entire brain flushes out the accumulated toxins of awake brain function. Every creature that has a brain, has to sleep. The biological advantage of a brain is weighed by the compelling need to pause and flush it out. Sleep is dangerous. Enemies can eat you while you are asleep, so whatever you are doing better be important. And what you are doing is autophagy. You are flushing out the accumulated gunk of consciousness.

We are currently in the midst of an epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease. 50% of us are getting it, so this is no laughing matter. If we are to prevent it, we better get expert at methods of preventing it. Inducing autophagy is one of the best candidates for effective prevention. So, just how can you induce your own autophagy? How can you flush your brain better? Fasting.

That’s what does it. Turns out fasting is very powerful. It doesn’t have to be all that long, just long enough to deplete glycogen in the liver. It’s probably 12 hours for most of us. And that’s just what Bredesen advises. In fact, Bredesen consider inducing autophagy as his second most important life style function. His advice is that you induce it daily by not eating for 12 hours every day, including 3 hours before bedtime. I find it interesting that virtually every religious tradition throughout history considered fasting to be an important function of spiritual practice. Can you imagine they recognized that those who did it ended up wiser?

WWW.What Will Work for Me. I’m getting better at not snacking at night. I even look at the clock at around 7 and tell myself to chill out a bit. The next step is considering going for a 36 hour fast and skipping a whole day. That is likely even more powerful at inducing autophagy. In the journey of change, I’m in Contemplation. I’m dabbling with the idea and thinking about whether it will be too painful to really do. Or will it induce my brain to be sharper and clearer. How confident am I?


Pop Quiz

‪Autophagy is basically eating yourself? T or F

Sounds gross. It’s accurate. And critical at the cellular level.

‪2. What do cells do when they consume themselves?

Digest old internal organelles and turn them into energy or basic break down products for new proteins. Pieces like Golgi bodies, mitochondria, ribosomes, all the internal organs inside the cell that get old and used up. It’s not only good for you, it’s critically important for healthy cells.

3. What disease has autophagy as one of it’s prime components?


4. I can induce autophagy every day by……..?

Not eating for 12 hours, including 3 hours before bedtime. I can get an even more potent spell of autophagy by fasting for a full day.

‪5. Sleep is important to creatures with brains because…..?

It’s your brain on flush, washing out old gunk, markedly assisted by fasting a minimum of 12 hours.

The Great Sugar Conspiracy

The Great Sugar Conspiracy

Reference: JAMA Inter Med Sept 2016,  Published Oct 3, 2016

If you are an average American, you are getting roughly 10-15% of your calories from sugar. Hmmm. Of 800,000 foods in America found by Lustig’s graduate students team, 600,000 of them have sugar added to them. When you go to the grocery store, you find cheerful markers on most food items claiming they are “LOW FAT” and hence, meant to be good for you. But low fat almost always means, high sugar. Where did this all come from?

It came from a remarkably successful PR campaign waged by the sugar lobby back in the 1960s. That’s what this week’s article details. The remarkable influence of the sugar lobby on the leading nutritional experts of the day. In the 1960s there were two leading nutritionists who held opposing views on how coronary artery disease wreaked its havoc. Angel Keys (The K in K-rations) was highly regarded because of his prominent role in Army nutrition. He advocated that fat was the enemy. John Yudkin believed it was sugar. He was off in England and what did those English know anyways!

Now, 60 years later, letters written between scientists and public policy folks are in library archives and open for the public. When these letters were unearthed and examined, the authors of this review find a terribly inconvenient truth.

Rojer Adams, a professor at the University of Illinois, was on the Sugar Research Foundation’s scientific advisory council. His letter, written to Mark Hegsted, professor of nutrition at Harvard, asking him to write a review of article on the mechanisms and risks of sugar versus fat is the smoking gun. Hegsted was also on the Sugar Research Foundations research council. He agreed to write a review article downplaying the risky components of sugar and emphasizing the problems with cholesterol and fat.

Angel Keys rose in time to greater and greater prominence, and he carried the torch forward. He was a bully in public and at meetings of anyone who disagreed with him, and literally hounded any opposing opinion off of the agenda of national meetings. High fat was his bugaboo. As chair of the NIH funding committee for research, you crossed Ancel Keys at your peril.

Early research suggested that sugar was in fact, the enemy. The Sugar Foundation swung into action and started Project 226, essentially to pay Hegsted and his boss, Stare, at the Harvard School of public health to write a review article downplaying sugar and pointing the problem to fat. That article was written, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine without mentioning its Sugar industry sponsorship. Hegsted got paid.

From there, it’s all history. It was the 1980s and food guidelines came out recommending lowering dietary fat, which means more sugar of one kind or another. Over the next 20 years, every food in America became low fat and consequently high carb. Ancel Keys ruled at the NIH and no-one question the hegemony of Hegsted and Keys. You gained 20 pounds.

This was the biggest public health policy disaster in American History. We didn’t let good science be conducted because secret, behind the scenes, payments led to the corruption of our medical research process. It took 20-30 years to fully correct that error. We are still struggling with it today.

WWW.What Will Work for me. It’s a struggle to avoid sugar. It tastes good and all of us are vulnerable to its effects. You eat sugar, you want more and you eat more. I’m so aware of my own sugar sensitivity. If I eat regular peanut butter on a spoon, I stop at one spoon and feel full. If I eat a brand name that has sugar in it, I can have 4-5 spoonfuls before I stop. But the science is now solid. Avoid sugar. If you want to escape the damage of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Sugar isn’t as harmful as people make out? T or F

False. It’s the core enemy of metabolic problems. MUCH worse than fat.

‪2. Our belief that cholesterol is the problem is the result of a carefully crafted PR campaign based on bribery to key doctors, paid for by the Sugar Industry. T or F

Spot on.

‪3. Our food guidelines followed the outcome of the PR guidelines, and suggested we eat a ceiling of 35% fat. T or F

True. That’s how we got there.

‪4. 35% fat should be the floor of our eating, with encouragement to go higher – aka, to 50% or the Mediterranean Diet. T or F

Again, true.

‪5. It’s critical for all published research to have openness as to funding sources. T or F

True. (Same idea would be good for politics, don’t you think?)

Vitamin B12 and the Aging Brain

Vitamin B12 and the Aging Brain

Reference: New York Times Sept 6, Wikipedia, Neurology,  Published Sept 19, 2016

Mary Todd Lincoln was a bit imbalanced. She had terrible tragedies in her life, besides the assassination of her husband. But her behavior was erratic and, in retrospect, is thought to have probably been on account of severe B12 deficiency. She finally died of it. Pernicious anemia is one of the first diseases characterized by “modern medicine” and its final understanding took almost 100 years to elucidate. I think B12 is so important, this is my 3rd or 4th summary of it, each from a slightly different angle. Repetition leads to learning.

Vitamin B12 is a huge vitamin. No animal can make it naturally. We are all dependent on certain bacteria to manufacture it for us. The means by which we absorb it is very complicated. First, we have to have stomach acid to release it from its carrier protein in meat. Then, we make our our protective protein in our stomachs to envelope it and shepherd it to our terminal ileum where it is absorbed. That’s a lot of steps. Complicated processes fail. As a consequence, by age 30 many of us are beginning to have less than ideal and by age 50 a significant portion of adults, probably at least 30% are too low.

Now we have the New York Times writing advice article about taking it to reduce risk of dementia. This comes at a time when there is increasing awareness that we don’t have to be victims of risk for Alzheimer’s. We can avoid it. And B12 is right there in that avoidance process. Hooshmand in the CAIDE Study from Sweden published in Neurology, showed that for every 1 mg increase in homocysteine, your risk for Alzheimer’s goes up 16%.

What is homocysteine? It’s a simple amino acid that acts like a shuttle bus. It takes a methyl group from B12 (or folate) and passes it off to glutathione. Glutathione then works to make various toxins water soluble, and thus able to be excreted. The core function of B12 is to pass off those methyl groups as a way of building or changing molecules. If you don’t have enough B12, you can’t get rid of gunk. You also can’t build proteins, or manage many metabolic processes.

This shouldn’t be hard. Homocysteine is our marker we can use to see if you are getting enough B12. If your homocysteine is anything above 7, you have a 16% increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Simplify it to that formula. And you can’t accomplish homocysteine lowering with just B12. You also need methylated folate in the mix, almost proportionately.

Do you know your B12 blood level? Most health system labs say you should have a level of 212 or higher. The Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) showed less cognitive decline with B12 of 500. And in fact, showed that the supplementation of food with folate without adding B12 leads to imbalance and another source of cognitive decline. I want a level of 500 as my normal.

www.What will work for me. I’ve been startled by how many of my own clients have low B12 and high homocysteine. My homocysteine was high when I first measured. I’m taking a B12 supplement, actually a B Vitamin mix. I suspect we all should. It’s so easy to lower your homocysteine with B vitamins, properly balanced. Now, can we get our health systems to pay for measuring the homocysteine? (Not yet!)


Pop Quiz

‪1. Your B12 blood level declines with aging because our means of absorbing it decline. T or F


‪2. Your body naturally makes B12 in your gut. T or F


‪3. If we are so survive after age 50, one of our markers of good health should be our B12 and homocysteine levels. Give me good targets.

500 and above for B12 and 7 for homocysteine

‪4. Your insurance will pay for you to measure this. T or F

Emphatically false. I’ve done battle with Aurora Health care and they refuse for their own employees to pay for this.

‪5. If you can’t take B12 by mouth, what is the best way to get it?

Under the tongue, or by shots. They should be cheap. I’ll sell them to you for about $ 1 a shot if you buy the bottle.